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

Surfing 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.

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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.

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Invaluable advice for writers: know yourself

It never ceases to amuse me the way we have to be reminded over and over again of things we should have already learned a long time ago. For example, there’s no doubt that the ancient Delphic maxim Know thyself—know yourself–holds true today as it did when it was first uttered. Indeed, there’s no doubt at all. And such a maxim holds true for everyone, writers included. In fact, if you know yourself you can avoid a lot of stress and useless worrying about your career as an independent writer. Just think of it. If you spend some quality time thinking hard about what makes you happy, what your values are, what is your definition of success, how hard you’re willing to work to attain certain goals, and so on, you can build your personal road map from here to whatever destination in life you choose. Besides, having chosen and…

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Where do good ideas come from? Myths about creativity and the creative process

When it comes to human relationships, and the most effective ways to improve them, a large number of people resort to self-help books . It’s reasonable. In fact, given the hectic times we live in, most of these people hope to find some quick and dirty tricks. Something to solve their problems with a minimal amount of time and effort on their part. Unfortunately, the truth is that such tricks rarely solve anything at all. Just think about it for a moment. Many self-help books tell us to smile and repeat over and over again the name of the people we’re talking with. These books also suggest that we ask the people we’re talking with about their jobs and hobbies. These I just mentioned, are just some of the most banal examples. However if we follow these suggestions in a mechanical and opportunistic way the people we are interacting with will soon realize…

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The creative writing process – why it matters more then any grammar or stylistic rule

Rules can be helpful. But there are really too many of them. So much indeed that, once we have mastered the basic ones, to improve our style we’re better off concentrating on a more concrete creative writing process. Phantom limbs can be extremely painful. Even if, given that they are not there, they shouldn’t pose any problem to their… owners. I know this sounds paradoxical. But bear with me, please. In the 90s the treatment of such type of pain was extremely difficult, and led to no or negligible improvements. But then V. S. Ramachandran came up with a brilliant solution. A solution only requiring a five dollar mirror. In fact, in his opinion the brain was sort of locked and unable to disengage the phantom limb from an uncomfortable and painful position because, after all, the limb was missing. But using a mirror, Ramachandran managed to give the brain the…

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Is daydreaming bad or good? What I discovered

Life is complex and multilayered. Indeed, any question worth asking rarely has a simple and straightforward answer. For example, take the question about the actual usefulness of daydreaming and its supposed drawbacks. Some facts Daydreaming is a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings. During these events people, while awake, tend to substitute their reality with a fantasy. In general, this is a pleasant fantasy, for example where aspirations and ambitions are fulfilled. Psychologists say daydreaming is quite common. It happens to pretty much everybody and it happens repeatedly too. Sex seems to be the only activity we undertake without indulging in daydreaming. It would be interesting to know if it is so because sex is often the subject of daydreaming–and not necessarily only among adolescents. But I’m daydreaming digressing…

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Flashbacks in literature – how to make them effective

There are many examples of flashback in literature. Some are skillfully pulled off. Some others totter on the brink of disaster, but manage to lead the reader back to the story before all is lost. Finally, some other flashbacks are like a knife in the hands of a butcher: they slaughter the story and leave it agonizing, bleeding to death. This doesn’t necessarily mean that writing a strong and effective flashback is a herculean feat. In fact, this could merely mean that flashbacks tend to be overlooked by authors. Because they are considered “easy stuff”. From a purely technical point of view they are right–it’s not at all that difficult to devise an effective flashback. However, to fully exploit the evocative powers of a flashback it is essential to follow some basic principles.

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