Archives for posts with tag: writing muse

This is the first in a series, “Don’t Do This” — posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. I believe you’ll like it — because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness. 

This first post is an easy read, every bit worth its tad-bit-longer length. Subsequent series posts will be pointed, brief, direct — with a strong take-away to apply right then and there. So you become a sharper writer, right now.

Get every word in this first post, so that you’re in the know for what’s to come.
(It’s worth it.)

**************************************************

When we hear the words, don’t do this, we sit up and listen — because we know that something important is coming: knowledge with the palpating power to save us from heartache and pain.

Entrepreneur. CEO. Leader. Forward thinker…
Creative. Writer. Artist. Musician. Passionate expresser of life…
Above-average thinker who cares…

Because you matter — your passion, your ideas — and because you want to make a difference…this is for you.

To communicate effectively with words, the how-to skill must be in place. For no matter how much heart or passion we feel and exude — get this — without the vital how-to help that your writing needs, the heart of your communication will collapse.

Seriously. Your ideas, passions, and hopes go into cardiac arrest and threaten to die.

But they don’t have to. When it comes to effectively getting your ideas to others, there are external defibrillators (AEDs) that can save you from some heartache and pain. AEDs analyze the heart’s electrical activity and give life-saving electric shocks to the chest of a person who has collapsed from cardiac arrest. Even if your writing is in cardiac arrest (if you know it…or can admit it…or are willing to do something with it because you get it), the info here gives the life-saving shocks needed, to breathe and fully live.

Because deep down, you know that your words matter,
and because you have a message that people need
and a skill to share…

Read on.
__________________________

Fact 1: Every word you write has a purpose. You know this.

Making a list, writing an article or post, writing a book — each has a reason for its existence.

You know the adage:
* Know the target, know the direction to shoot the arrow.
(It applies here.)
* Know the purpose of your writing, and you’ll understand what kinds of words, phrases, tone, style, length of sentence (and other tools) to use.

Because purpose directs and informs everything we write. Everything.
(Really.)

Here’s the super-simple action I want you to do…
(Trust me on this one.)

Ask the questions:
Who’s going to read this, and why?
What does he or she expect?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

And, yes, keep asking yourself the questions — while you’re smack-dab in the center of your click-press-pop-clack fingers on the keys or press-flow-move pen on the page.

(Any and every time you write.)

These questions should be soaring, swooping, circling in your brain above the target, like a mighty falcon with gleaming-sun-feather brilliance. The questions are ever present — ever casting shadows on the red-and-white circled target of your writing.

We want powerful writing — zinging and smacking into the target. So we’d better understand our writing’s purpose.
_________________________

Fact 2: Your writing has a goal: to express, to inform, or to persuade. 

Expression is just for you and me so, hey, we can put anything we want on the page. But information and persuasion, ah, now we’re in different territory. Information and persuasion are for others.

So. We’re stuck.

Because when we write for others, we have to do it their way. We have to follow the guidelines that meet the reader’s needs. If we don’t, then we end up with no one reading what we wrote. Ugh.

Hm. In order to satisfy the reader, we’d better understand the goal of each little scrap that we write.

Ask the questions:
What benefit is my reader looking for?
What does he/she want to feel and experience?
What do they want to know, to walk away with?
Am I giving the reader exactly what’s wanted?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want satisfied readers — full of good feelings toward what we wrote, full of good memories and understandings that bring them back for more. So we’d better understand the goal of each little bit that we write.
_________________________

Fact 3: Engagement rules. Gone are the days of readers hanging around to read writing that doesn’t engage.

Most of us cringe at the volume of words bombarding our inbox, crowding into our web searches, bumping across our Facebook pages, and even ambling across the bottom of our television programs with the ad for the next-up program.

We’re way beyond information overload. We’re in information repel mode.

Engagement is critical.

Failure to follow the rules of engagement makes readers push away in disappointment, apathy, or even upset mode. Disappointed, apathetic, upset readers leave, let alone even begin to engage (as in, let’s click away in three seconds flat).

That simply won’t do.

Ask the questions:
Where are the repetitive words to axe and toss down the hill?
How can I change up words, to make the writing concise, pointed, powerful?
What am I doing in my writing that repels the reader?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want readers to stay. So we’d better understand the rules of engagement for writing. (This series is all about helping you identify exactly what you’re doing…so stay with me.)
_______________________________

Fact 4: Rules of engagement are blood red critical. Writing lives or dies on the rules of engagement.

But we have a serious problem. We don’t know what we don’t know. (Ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly.)

No lie: I believe that most bad writing is for lack of knowledge. Cluelessness. Not intentional, mind you — it’s simply the I-just-never-learned-this-stuff ignorance.

And without knowing it’s even happening, you’re sending the reader away apathetic or screaming.

Oy.

At the turn of the New Year, ask questions:
Am I keeping myself back by simply living in a closed-door mentality, a self-focus?
Am I willing to open myself up to learning?
Am I humble enough to listen?
Am I willing to be thirsty for understanding, so that I can move forward?

It’s time:
Get better at the craft of written communication.
Don’t mess up due to ignorance.

<<Make what you write matter.>>

Have nothing stand in the way of your clear, vibrating, resonating, connecting communication.

Be willing. Willing to cultivate an open, listening, seeking heart. Willing to listen. Willing to absorb.

Willing to work.

Next time, we’ll get practical. We’ll talk about how not to end your piece. (How to give your reader something to hold onto, a smooth stone in the hand — a promise. It’s good.)

See you then.
(I can’t wait.)

* Thup
coffeeDec26-14

Writers:
Write despite life.

Despite the challenges.
Despite the changes.
Despite the problems.
Write.

Creators:
Create amidst life.

Despite the schedule.
Despite the work.
Despite the day-to-day must-dos.
Create.

Entrepreneurs:
Act and press through to the end.

Despite the pull on your time.
Despite the emotions that push against the day.
Despite the challenges of the idea that drives you.

And dancers. Photographers. Artists of all kinds.
Do, despite all the things that pull you away.

Even if it’s a small amount of time. 

*Thup
coffeeDec6-14
PS. This is my season of “write despite”:

(he inspires me, too)

“How much do you want it?”
You know what I’m talking about. The end-game. The result.
That thing you say you want — that goal you set a ways back,
that unfinished project, that brilliant idea.

The question’s standing out there,
peering at you sideways with a cocked head and slitty eyes:

“How much do you really want it?”

Well.
I (and everyone else who knows you) can tell
how much you really want it.

All we have to do is look at actions.
(Your effort.)
(Your work.)
(What you spend your time on.)

We all have that thing that we talk about, that thing we “want.” But
our lives — our actions — really show if we want it or not.

<<Desire is one thing.>>
<<Doing the work is another.>>

(Gah. Truth hits the mark again.)

‘Cause if we really want it, we’ll do the work.
Now. Passionately. With visible effort.
(Turn on the work ethic. The results might amaze you.)

*Thup

coffeeNov23-14

Space. The Final Frontier.
(Trekkie here.)

Okay, not the final frontier. But, at the least,
for your best productivity,
it’s a frontier to think about.

Watch my Tuesday Vlog Minute..
Click here.

* Thup

At its base, art is about the complexity of life.

For example.
Sometimes, we as people are just not enough. We miss the mark of someone’s expectations. Always. At some point.
It’s the way it goes.

And when we’re not enough for someone.
They may ignore us.
They may turn on us.
(They may do both.)
Oh, people. So human. So flawed. So completely uugh sometimes.
(All of us.)

A few may extend grace. But that’s rare.
(unfortunately. so unfortunately. rare.)

Writers, in your story, your hero has to get to the place where he or she is not enough. He doesn’t meet expectations. He gives up.

In other words.
Nothing works.
Nothing matters.
(A moment of death.)

It’s the hero’s decisions at that point that make your story run its fingertip along the sand of humanity.

Story is complicated.
(So is life.)

Artists draw or paint it.
Photographers capture it.
Dancers express it.
Writers write it.

Perhaps that’s the way we, as a people, can deal.
As in understanding.
As in catharsis.
As in simply being human.
Through art. Creativity. Expression.

Humanity.

* Thup
coffeeJune21-14

Ever heard of “coffee snobs”?
(If you are one, you’re grinning. Uh-huh. Yup.)

Definition, please…
A coffee snob is someone who doesn’t just know and love good coffee; the snob knows and loves the best coffee — and doesn’t accept anything less.

We’ve studied coffee, tasted all kinds of coffees, and become spoiled on quality coffee.

By definition, a snob believes that his or her tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people. And for coffee lovers, it’s not belief; it’s truth. (*Caution: Coffee Snob Crossing. ha.)

So for those of us who adore coffee, “just any old coffee” will NOT do.

““““““““““““““`

Coffee snobs are the ones who drive across town
to get a cup of coffee at the “good” coffee place —
because no other coffee will do.

Coffee snobs not only know the difference between Sumatra, Guatemalan, and French Roast
(can there be anything more different?) —
we talk Indonesian, Yemen, and South American, too.

We use words like “espresso shots pulled,”
“berry, wine, and chocolate notes,” and
“intense, lime-like acidity.”
(And we get really excited about “single origin expresso.”)

And if someone offers us offee from McDonalds — oy!
Off with their heads!
(That’s not coffee. Get real.
It’s water with coffee-ish flavoring splashed in. duh.)

““““““““““““““““““““““““

Who, me? (Yes, you.)
Snobs exist everywhere. It’s too bad the word has a horrid connotation, because we’re really nice people (most of the time).

Now hang with me here, because there’s a point to this.
(You know me. There’s always a point.)

Snobs exist in all activities. Within all phases of activities.

For instance, 
there are pen snobs, too.
I know. I am one.
(Oh, yes. We can be many snobs all rolled into one.
Wow. That conjures up weirdness.)

Yesterday, when working together with a fabulous young author and her work, I couldn’t find the right pen. All had to stop, until I found it. All was not right with the world — until the correct pen rested between my fingers.

You see, particularly for those of us who adore writing, “just any old pen” will NOT do.

We have to have the pen that feels good in the hand.
With the perfect weight.
And the perfect tip.
And the most perfect movement across the paper.
(I know…there’s no such thing as most perfect. The words simply felt right. See. There I go. I’m being a snob about word choice and rhythm, too.)

A good pen allows you to engage when you write. Really write.

Hear me again: Snobs are everywhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those of us who adore painting,
“just any old brush” will NOT do.
Right?

And for those of us who create photographs as an art form,
“just any old camera” will NOT do.
Right?

And for those of us who play an instrument,
“just any old instrument” will NOT do.
Right?
(Don’t get me started on this one.)

There’s a message here.
When it comes to creativity and artistry,  each of us has preferences. But they’re not just preferences. They’re personal, comfortable habits of creativity that allow us to do our best.

We learn what works for us, and we refine the process over time. By using the best equipment, the best processes, and even the best coffee and pens, we slide into our creative sweet spot — getting to the artistry faster and with more excellence because we turned a creative preference into a habit that increased our artistry and productivity.

(That’s a mouthful. But a true mouthful, at that.)

What’s your sweet spot?
What tools, tricks, and processes help you to create at your highest levels of performance?
(Have you been attentive enough to know what helps you to create at a faster rate, in the zone with the brain, body, and soul working together at optimum speed and skill?)

Snobbery, if you will, in the form of your own special process —
where you tap into the creative —
where creativity takes hold of you and thrusts you into the ring —
where you flash the fists and fight and win —
emerging victorious, arm held high — and the winner is! —
held high by the audience, collective individuals experiencing your work, as the crowd roars —
Yes, this kind of snobbery benefits everyone involved.

(Application Button, please…)
Okay. Bottom Line.
Find the physical and mental tools that take you to creativity’s center.

Don’t let the tool become the focus, though. Fuse with the tools, to become the opponent who’s fully in the mental and physical game, to create at the highest pace and performance.

We’re all entering the ring to win,
right?

Find what pulls you to excellence, even in the small things.
Like the right pen. And a good cup of coffee.

* Thup
coffeeMay29-14
* This post is dedicated to my husband, who kindly offered me a coffee from McDonalds and got more of an answer to the why not? than he anticipated. No matter how nicely it’s explained, it just sounds…snobbish. *sigh

I’m convinced.

We’re all different. We all prefer different work spaces and work processes. But sometimes, for the best productivity of any creative venture, we need a block of time. And not just any block of time. A clean block of time.

clean from electronics
.iphone
No phones, no email, and no buzzers. Of any kind. (Is this even possible?) There’s something about today’s screaming technology that siphons the life out of creativity.

Little electronic gnats follow us everywhere, even infesting our computers. Every few minutes or so on my Mac, a little window drops down on the top right of the screen telling me that an email just came in, or my hard-drive space is almost full (a writer’s problem), or that it’s now 9:00.

In normal, everyday work, I need the interruption, to get the job done. But when I’m trying to be creatively productive in a clean block of time, helpful reminders dirty up the art of creating.

To be uber-productive, I have to turn the reminders off. You might have to, too.

 kidclean of kids’ interruptions.
I know, I know. Moms and dads, this one’s almost impossible. BUT. To create in a mentally-free space, we have to clear our minds.

We have to get away — or work before the kids wake up or after they go to bed. (Remember, I have a ton of kids. I get this.)

There’s something about clean, uninterrupted silence that gets us into a place of high creativity. Little voices or taps on the arm whoosh us out of that space.

Yes, sometimes that interrupted time, or shared time with our kid sitting next to us, is the only thing we’ve got — so we’ll take it. But to be uber-productive, I have to find alone space. You might have to, too.

heartsclean of significant-other interruptions.
When it comes to getting to the inner place of creation, your significant other will most likely not get it. To those of you who are paired with creatives, you have a blessed life.

Oh, the not-getting-it isn’t intentional. On the contrary, the “Oops! I’m sorry! You were deep in thought just then, weren’t you?” moments are honest.

I have to work out that special block of alone time, with confirmation that it’s not about them. It’s about me. To be uber-productive, you might have to do this, too.

social mediaclean of social media.
I don’t have to go on about this one. Whether it’s Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, or Instagram, social media can’t exist in an uber-creative-uber-productive block of time. For all of us. With four fingers pointing back at me. (’nuff said)

worry  clean of worries.
None of us are ever worry free. Our minds swirl. Social, relational, financial, and job-related — it doesn’t matter where the concerns come from.

If I don’t have a quiet time where I release concerns in prayer or meditation, creativity remains wrapped and bound in shredded pieces of emotional cloth. I putter. I mutter. I flit. I do anything but go into the creative space. (Can you relate?)

It doesn’t matter who or what shut the door. It’s shut. For me, to be creative, that worry needs releasing.

To be uber-productive, you might have to do this, too. However. Whatever. Whomever. The clean block of time can’t truly happen with worry.

So. One more thing on this clean-block-of-time, super-productive thing.

For me, it has to be planned. Scheduled. Made happen.

It’s Monday. This just might be a good time to put something in the calendar, to ensure that this coveted uber-productive creative time happens.

(I am.)

Lifting my mug to you. Here’s to an uber-productive week.

* Thup

coffeeApr21-14

NOTE: The self-talk message today is brought to you by our valuable sponsor, Swift Kick in the Bum, who’s visiting my house and thought he’d share the wealth.

*clears throat*
Here we go.

The value of momentum can’t be overstated.

It’s not so hard to start a project, is it? Okay, procrastination aside, beginning a project is fairly easy. Ideas burst and jump in playful imaginations. Images holding near perfection float freely in our minds. Then we sit down to work, anticipation fueling our hands. This should be easy, we say. After all, we have an idea — and the idea feels alive.

So, with verve, the idea splashes onto the page. And we feel good.

The next day, waterfalls still play in our minds. The work continues, and we feel good.

The next day, idea rivulets move into tertiary streams. Ideas still flow, so we’re okay.

But then. Droplets. And dry spells. And maybe it even all-out-full-stops. GAH.

Maybe you were pulled away by schedule. Or relationships. Or health. Responsibilities in another area of your life fluxed and bulged, pressing and pushing time in a way that didn’t allow you to get back to it.

Whatever the reason, momentum stopped. And once it stops, it can be hard to get going again. Most of the time, the reason that I don’t begin again isn’t physical. I’m physically capable, even if it’s just putting in a little time. Oh, no. The reason I don’t begin again is emotional.

Frozen is  more than the title of a blockbuster movie. It’s our state, when momentum stops.

It’s time to get momentum going again.
With One. Little. Piece. Of. Movement.
One push.
Dig your heels in. (Go.)
(Simply get past the emotional and mental state, and let the physical momentum take over.)

Momentum is an asset that we can’t afford to be without.
* Thup
coffeeApril4-14

I had a whole different blog post swirling in my mind, for today.
But. Then.

Then a friend messaged me on Facebook
with words that I thought completely and utterly wonderful —
surely worthy to share with you all.

That’s a lot of adverbs.
(My MFA professors are rolling their eyes.)

BUT.
This. Is. So. Cool.
(and spot on)

So, thank you, Dick —
And I hope you guys enjoy my friend’s note
and these words of Mark Twain as much as I did…

“Hi there, I have enjoyed reading your blog, *Thup. This morning, I don’t know how I got there, but I found myself reading an iBook I have of Mark Twain excerpts.

I came across this, and I thought, ‘I know somebody who would appreciate this!’ (You). Enjoy!…[Excuse me as I Break the Fourth Wall and say, Yuppers, he was right :)]…

‘A man who is born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel. I know this from experience.

He has no clear idea of his story; in fact he has no story. He merely has some people in his mind, and an incident or two, also a locality.

He knows these people, he knows the selected locality, and he trusts that he can plunge those people into those incidents with interesting results. So he goes to work.

To write a novel? No—that is a thought which comes later; in the beginning he is only proposing to tell a little tale; a very little tale; a six-page tale.

But as it is a tale which he is not acquainted with, and can only find out what it is by listening as it goes along telling itself, it is more than apt to go on and on and on till it spreads itself into a book.

I know about this, because it has happened to me so many times.”

From Quotations from the Project Gutenberg Editions of the Works of Mark Twain. iBooks. This material may be protected by copyright. Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=361726363

So. Cool.
(I love Mark Twain, don’t you?)

Here’s to getting acquainted with your work today.
(Listen.)

* Thup
coffeeFeb11-14

When you don’t feel like it,
do it anyway.

When you don’t want to do the right thing,
do it anyway.

When you don’t want to put out the effort,
do it anyway.

(Most likely, I truly do believe,
you’ll be glad that you did.)

Go.
n.o.w.
(“Just start, already!”)

And.
(Yes, there’s more.)
Don’t settle. Go deeper.

<<Be passionate.>>
(yolo, my friendos)

Make time.
[[m.a.k.e. time.]]
Write. Draw. Take that photo. Sculpt. Sing. Jump. Dance. Play. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. (did I say etc?) Ad infinitum.
(.be.)

Yup.
Pep talk for today.
(“talk to the mirror”)

* Thup
coffeeFeb5-14

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