A writer’s hobbies and interests

mountain top with a tree - a writer's hobbies and interests

It’s essential to have some hobbies and interests to help us restore our vital juices when they’re running low.

I love reading and writing. Actually, some books, I’m so glad I’ve read them I consider myself a lucky person. Just for that.

However, no matter how deep my love for reading and writing is, I could never sit at my desk for hours and hours every single day. And keep on reading and writing.

Fact is, after a while I’ve been sitting my legs need, or rather reclaim, their share of activity. I get restless. My mind begins to wander. And I either find myself rereading whole passages I’ve already read while zoning out on a sort of autopilot, or rewriting passages I’ve written under the arcane spell of the same atrocious autopilot.

Because, if it’s true that practice makes perfect, it has to be of the right kind.

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Is your writer’s block telling you something?

dreadful writer's block

Sometimes a writer’s block is the result of our trying to climb a mountain we are not really prepared to challenge

Usually you tend to consider the writer’s block like an obstacle that prevents you from putting down on page your ideas. Or even an obstacle that prevents you from having any fruitful ideas in the first place.

In the first case, you can usually overcome your writer’s block in several different ways.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Have some coffe or a cappuccino.
  • Do some sport, like running or cycling.
  • Reduce distractions.
  • Read a book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Try to stick to a routine.
  • Force yourself to write anyway, no matter how shitty your writing is going to be.
  • Cook a meal.
  • Chop wood.

All these solutions can help. And many others as well. But sometimes the dreadful writer’s block you’re experiencing is just the way your body, your subconscious, has to tell you to stop a moment. Continue reading

Linguistics – how we relate to language

woman with paint - how we relate to language

How we relate to language – we paint our faces with it yet we need a tool, a mirror, to see the end result of our efforts.

It has always fascinated me how we relate to language. We use it every day, constantly and quite skillfully. Yet we know little about how it works.

Think of it. We yell at the dog to get him off the sofa. We pause a moment to make sure we have actually scared the damn thing away, then we resume our chatting on the phone with our friend. Later on, when our spouse gets home we say hello to him, or her, and ask about their day. Finally, we promptly adopt motherese to speak to our three year old daughter, who has just come out of her room screaming like a banshee. Or maybe not if we are males. But still adapt our speech to our child’s ability to understand and process information.

With writing pretty much the same applies. We’re able to tell a well written work from a badly botched one. We know when we’re facing a page marred with sheer stupid legalese. We process in entirely different ways an instruction manual from a book of poems. And, sometimes, we even find beauty in all those strangely arranged signs on a page.

Yet, we know little about the deepest mechanics of language.

At first blush this ignorance seems to give rise to a paradoxical situation. In reality, however, there’s no paradox at all. After all to run a 100-meters dash we don’t need to know anything about leverages and physics. We just decide to run as fast as we can and then our brain, mostly on a subconscious level, takes care of the rest. Continue reading

Seeds of creativity – what really are great ideas?

If you believe great ideas come in a sudden flash and offer themselves complete down to the last detail you might be in for a shock.

monkey looking at birds up in the sky - seeds of creativity

Seeds of creativity

We cannot prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from making nests on top of our heads.

Similarly, bad thoughts sometimes appear in our mind, but we can choose whether we allow them to live there, to create a nest for themselves, and to breed evil deeds.

I read this quote some days ago. I found it in Tolstoy’s Path of Life, but the quote itself is attributed to Martin Luther.

Be that as it may, this quote made me think about ideas and productivity from a writer’s point of view.

In fact, while it’s is true that occasionally writers experience the dreaded writer’s block, it’s also true that in general any self-respecting writer has the opposite problem. I mean, like the birds of the quotes, ideas keep flying over our heads and trying to make a home for themselves right there.

As a result a writer’s biggest problem should have to do with choosing the best idea to work on, not with having an idea at all. Continue reading

Signs you are a writer – what is true and what is not

signs you are a writerSurfing the web you can come across a zillion of posts listing the telltale signs you are a writer.

These posts can be entertaining, no doubt about that. But they’re often based on myths, stereotypes, and little more.

For example don’t worry if you didn’t start reading and writing before other children of your age. Or if your spelling abilities are still next to non existent.

Many great writers have managed to succeed despite these problems, and some others way more difficult as well.

Just think of W. B. Yeats and Jeanne Betancourt who had to work around their dyslexia.

Think also of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French Elle, who found himself paralyzed apart from one eye as a result of a catastrophic stroke. And yet managed to write a touching book — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Continue reading

Improve your editing skills – 5 easy tips

There was a time I hated editing.

There was a time I thought all the fun was in ferrying my ideas into reality, in writing them on paper for the first time around.

I thought the thrill of discovery, and that strange feeling I experienced—of tapping into some mysterious sort of alternate reality—was all I cared about.

But then, blunt and irreverent, time barged in as it always does. And much to my chagrin it showed me I was mistaken.

In short, it happened the most obvious thing in the world. I began rereading some of the stories I had written. In particular, I began rereading them months after I had written them.

A change of perspective

The results weren’t exactly flattering. Indeed, in many cases I discovered my stories, that had seemed so damn fantastic to me on the day of completion, now presented a long series of disturbing problems. Continue reading

Procrastination for writers – the urge to write and the high place phenomenon

To be a true writer you have to do just one thing.

Yep, you guessed it right.

You’ve got to write. You’ve got to write (almost) every day.

If you write, you are a writer. Even if you never publish anything, or your marketing efforts are practically non existent, like in my case — but I promise I’m going to change that.

The fact is, as a writer you should feel the urge to write. That almost physical necessity to give shape to your thoughts and feelings, arranging and rearranging words into ever new tapestries—no, I haven’t said travesties.

It doesn’t matter if you also experience resistance, and have to fight a daily battle with procrastination. Writers are known to be quite eccentric, to say the least.

So, if you have the desire to write, and your head is full of ideas, and yet you find yourself striving to sit down and actually write the words, there’s nothing to worry about. Of course, provided most of the days you do end up winning your personal battle with procrastination.

Some time ago, I wrote a post about this. A post based on first-hand experiences with procrastination and the tricks I use to defeat it (most of the days).

However, I must also admit that in many cases when it comes to procrastination what I need most isn’t a quick fix whose effectiveness tends to wear out over time. What I need most is a deeper understanding of my behavior.

In fact, in that way I can work on what lies at the root of my behavior and change it.

Of course, this approach requires more time and effort, especially at the beginning, but it is also the only approach to grant lasting results. Continue reading