Use gamification to increase your daily word count

Some years ago, after I repeatedly found myself still playing at five o’clock in the morning, I had to wipe Skirim off my hard drive. And when the deinstallation program asked me if I wanted to keep my saved games I immediately clicked no. To prevent second thoughts from taking shape into my mind and persuade me the saved games were just harmless files. That I could keep them and be safe nonetheless. To this day, the same happens whenever I play chess. The game is so complex and compelling, and I find it so intriguing, I can’t just play…

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A book is a map of meanings – but a map is not the territory

In his short story On exactitude In Science, Jorge Luis Borge says that a map is not the territory, and should never be. This is one of those statements you could dismiss as utterly banal and therefore not worth of any pondering. But also that of gravity seems a banal concept, doesn’t it? After all we have all a basic and instinctual understanding of it. You know what I mean. Keep away from unprotected high places. Press benches are fine but don’t overdo them if you don’t want to get squashed under a barbell… We have this basic understanding because we…

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Power vocabulary – choosing the right word

At times, choosing the right word can look like a daunting task. Especially if we consider the sheer amount of words that even a measly dictionary can provide us with. Yet there’s a way we can improve our ability to write in a more effective and engaging manner. And it’s not based on rules or long lists. Rather, it’s based on the natural curiosity for the basic principles of writing that any self-respecting writer generally possesses. Choosing the right word is a matter of economy First of all, we should look at novels like extended and coherent chunks of the…

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Where do you get your ideas from? It’s quite a common question… but what about the answer?

Where do you get your ideas from? is probably one of those questions that writers are asked most often. Unfortunately it’s also a loaded question. In fact, it uncritically assumes that ideas are sort of objects completely formed and ready to be used—maybe like objects sitting neatly on a shelf somewhere in a magic shop, all happily waiting for a writer to come by and choose one. In reality ideas are made of the fuzziest substance in the universe: jumbles of often erratic human thoughts. So much so that even if you ever managed to find a magic shop with a…

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Sculpt your novel into existence the way you like it, but make sure you put a piece of your heart inside it

Some heart touching stories are so well written that, as readers, we can’t but to feel grateful for having the opportunity to read them. Indeed, there has been times when I’ve finished reading a book and remained there, staring into the distance at nothing in particular, just savoring that particular mix of joy, sadness, and wonder that for me is the natural hallmark of a great read. One day, when I was in my teens, I let a friend of mine read a story I had written, and by the end of it she was crying. For me that episode…

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Is your writer’s block telling you something?

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…

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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. 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…

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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…

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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…

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