The writing life – why I love writing

If you write because you think it’s the quickest way to becoming a millionaire, think better. In particular, you’re making two basic mistakes. The make-a-living myth The first is a simple matter of numbers. To pay the bills and send their kids to school, most writers, even the moderately successful ones, have to balance their precious time between their art and an often mundane day job. Of course, this doesn’t mean there are no authors able to accumulate a fortune with their books. We have all heard of people like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and all the others. However, considering the number of all the authors, those who sell enough to live from their craft really are a minority. This is so even if we don’t take into account the gazillion aspiring writers out there in the wild who write sporadically, read erratically, and rarely invest time …

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One of the most important rules for writers

With great power also comes great responsibility. This is quite a common saying–also thanks to its popularization by the creators of Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In any case, this saying is so widespread also because it’s deeply true. Not just rules for writers… To realize this we don’t need to look for superheroes fighting against super villains always only one step away from destroying the world. We can just keep our eyes open during our everyday activities. Take traffic officers, for example. In the overwhelming majority of the cases, they behave in a professional way, irrespective of the fact they have stopped us for a routine control or to give us a ticket.

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The simplest solution in creative writing – understanding Occam’s razor

Keep it simple, this is a mantra so short and appealing that we end up thinking it must be always true. Unfortunately it is not. However, once we understand what the simplest solution means in creative writing, we can really step up our writing style. What is Occam’s razor, and why the simplest solution? In short, Occam’s razor is a principle stating that, among competing hypotheses, the simplest one should be preferred. However, this is just a tool, and like any tool it’s far from perfect. In fact, the preference it accords to the simplest solutions is such not because these have been proved to be always the correct ones—not at all. Rather, Occam’s razor gives preference to the simplest solutions because they are the more easily testable. The fact they often are also the correct ones is just a nice bonus. For example, just think of the stars we see in the …

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The role of art in society, the ultimate mind map?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. As the quote from Hamlet makes it apparent, Shakespeare knew quite well that the world around us, just like the one residing in our head, is simply too vast and rich for an artist, any artist, to ever hope to describe it in its entirety. This might seem like a terrible limitation on our ability to create art. It also seems to undermine the role of art in society. Instead, I believe this apparent inability, this sort of limitation, is one of the strong points of art. Arts and maps In fact, just like Borges points out in his On Exactitude in Science, maps that are so rich and detailed as the territory they are meant to describe are quintessentially useless. The reason is simple. Maps are by definition representations of a limited number …

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Why creativity is special and infinity and monkeys cant’t crush it

In many cases slogans are just strings of words simple to remind—and a bit too simplistic. Creativity is special may sound like a slogan. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Have a look at the use over time for the word ‘creativity’ (table 1). You’ll immediately realize this is a trendy term to say the least. In fact, while before the 50s the word ‘creativity’ was used only in certain fields, nowadays we all sprinkle with ‘creativity’ and creativity-related terms a vast part of our everyday discourse. Indeed, nowadays most of us readily recognize that creativity is special, and hold it in high esteem. I mean, creative jobs are in high demand, just like creative professionals. So much so that even professions where creativity and imagination were once considered non essential are now trying to change such a perceptual misconception. However, despite the enormous attention creativity is getting these days, …

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