Monday, December 27, 2010

Become a better writer!

Today I read the following list on:
And I liked it, so hopefully you will too, here goes

Doing these things can help you become a better writer:
1. Become a blogger.
2. Use self-imposed word limits.
3. Accept all forms of criticism and learn to grow from it.
4. Read what you’ve written over and over, until you can’t find any more problems.
5. Show what you write to a trusted friend for feedback.
6. Outline. And then write to that outline.
7. Edit, and edit again.
8. Live with passion.
9. Be open, curious, present, and engaged.
10. Take a break between writing and editing.
11. Learn a new word a day.
12. Get the pen and fingers moving.
13. Write in different genres: blog posts, poems, short stories, essays.
14. Read grammar books.
15. Write without distractions.
16. Challenge yourself: write in a crowded cafe, write on the toilet, write for 24 hours straight.
17. Take a trip. Road trips, beach trips, bus trips, plane trips.
18. Watch movies. Can you write the story better?
19. Write. And then write some more.
20. Read, think, read, write, ponder, write – and read some more.
21. Read your stuff aloud to anyone who can stand it – including the cat.
22. Go back and cut 10% from your word count.
23. Talk to people.
24. Listen to how people talk.
25. Read lots of books. Both good and bad.
26. Make notes of your (fleeting) brilliant ideas.
27. Start your writing ahead of time – not hours before a deadline.
28. Listen to podcasts on writing tips.
29. Use simple, declarative sentences.
30. Avoid passive voice.
31. Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs.
32. When in doubt, cut it out.
33. Kill clunky sentences.
34. Be inspired by other art forms – music, dance, sculpture, painting.
35. Read your old stuff and acknowledge how far you’ve come – and how far you have to go.
36. Write for publication, even if it’s only for the local newsletter or a small blog.
37. Make writing your priority in the morning.
38. Keep squeezing words out even if you feel uninspired.
39. Tell everyone: “I’m a writer.”
40. Recognize your fear and overcome it.
41. Let your articles rest and then return to them with fresh eyes.
42. Comment on your favorite blogs.
43. Keep a journal to keep the writing juices flowing.
44. Use a journal to sort out your thoughts and feelings.
45. Keep it simple.
46. Practice monotasking. Set a timer for uninterrupted writing.
47. Watch people.
48. Get to know someone different from you and reflect on the experience.
49. Try new ideas or hobbies – the more variety you have in your life, the more likely you are to keep on generating good ideas on the page.
50. Read works from different cultures. It helps keep your writing from tasting stale in the mouths of your readers.
51. Rethink what is ‘normal’.
52. Work on brilliant headlines.
53. Check if your assumptions are right.
54. Join a writing group. If you can’t find one, form one.
55. Write during your most productive hours of the day.
56. Designate time to research.
57. Take time to muse and mindmap.
58. Map out a writing schedule for your project and stick to it.
59. Ask someone else to proofread.
60. Read Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” at least once a year.
61. Break out of your comfort zone.
62. Write at the scene. If you want to write about a beach, get a picnic rug and go write by the sea.
63. Go to the supermarket, the ball game, the class room, the building site. Make notes of the sensuous details, the atmosphere, the people.
64. Start with metaphors and stories.
65. Approach writing with gratitude, not just with a ‘must do this’ attitude.
66. Deconstruct and analyze books and articles you enjoy.
67. Know about story architecture. Many writers don’t. Which is like doing heart surgery or flying an airliner by intuition. Survival rates are low.
68. Socialize with other writers.
69. Stretch or exercise in between writing.
70. Make a note of ideas for further development before you leave a piece for tomorrow.
71.Use mindmaps for inspiration.
72. Take risks – don’t be afraid to shock. You are not who you think you are.
73. [Please add your own suggestion in the comment section!]
I hope that one or more of these suggestions has inspired you. Let me know which ones resonated with you. And please add to the list. I look forward to reading your comments! Thanks to all the Write to Done readers who contributed to this list
Speak out
Let us have some variation on the theme
Speak freely
not thoughts you think we like to hear
But thoughts that sear and form and grow
To change
Change our cluttered cramped ideas
Speak out
For that is why you are here

- Egal Bohen

Friday, December 10, 2010

I died for Beauty, but was scarce

(My altime favorite Dickinson poem!)

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
"And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

- Emily Dickinson

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!


A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!
From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady—my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

- Emily Dickinson

"Why do I love" You, Sir?


"Why do I love" You, Sir?
The Wind does not require the Grass
To answer—Wherefore when He pass
She cannot keep Her place.

Because He knows—and
Do not You—
And We know not—
Enough for Us
The Wisdom it be so—

The Lightning—never asked an Eye
Wherefore it shut—when He was by—
Because He knows it cannot speak—
And reasons not contained—
—Of Talk—
There be—preferred by Daintier Folk—

The Sunrise—Sire—compelleth Me—
He's Sunrise—and I see—
I love Thee—

- Emily Dickinson


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken.
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,Y
ours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

- Rudyard Kiplin

The Penitent

I had a little Sorrow,
Born of a little Sin,
I found a room all damp with gloom
And shut us all within;
And, "Little Sorrow, weep,"
said I,"And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
And I upon the floor will lie
And think how bad I've been!"

Alas for pious planning—
It mattered not a whit!
As far as gloom went in that room,
The lamp might have been lit!
My little Sorrow would not weep,
My little Sin would go to sleep—
To save my soul I could not keep
My graceless mind on it!

So I got up in anger,
And took a book I had,
And put a ribbon on my hair
To please a passing lad,
And, "One thing there's no getting by—
I've been a wicked girl,"
said I:"But if I can't be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!"

- Edna St. Vincent Millay