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Writing Hacks, Part 1: Starting

Writing Hacks, Part 1: Starting
By Scott Berkun, Aug. 28 2006 (#54) Writing is easy, it’s quality that’s hard. Any idiot who knows 5 words can write a sentence (e.g. For this reason writer’s block is a sham. Consider this: Have you ever been blocked while playing Frisbee? So play. Writing hacks for starting In the grand tradition of lists and books of hacks, writing hacks are clever little actions that give you leverage and put the dynamics in your favor. Start with a word. Write about how it feels not to be able to write. Have a conversation. Read something you hate. Warm up. Make lists. Switch to something harder. Run like hell. Whiskey. Rummage your scrap pile. Smart writers have stockpiles of old ideas to arm themselves against the evils of the blank page. Notes [1] I sometimes write “I have nothing to say” and repeat it on the page. [2] True story. [4] I wrote the novel on and off for 10 years, and finished in 2005 (with draft #5). Further advice:

Persuasive Essay Topics & Original Ideas for Your Essay! A Flappers' Dictionary Hidden deep within a box of materials that came into the shop this week was a short stack of old magazines. I’d never seen this title before, but I knew what it was just as soon as I saw it: Flapper. “Not for Old Fogies” said the masthead, but I took a look anyway. These were in beautiful condition (“Near Mint” is the technical term) and were just a lot of fun to page through. During the Roaring 20s of the last century, young ladies took on a new, and for the time radical, lifestyle. It was all a reaction to what women perceived as stifling control placed over them by the male of the species. The July 1922 edition of Flapper contained “A Flappers’ Dictionary.” “The flapper movement is not a craze, but something that will stay,” the author maintained. The dictionary went into some detail, listing the group’s slang and providing definitions. So, whether you be airedale or biscuit, put down your dincher and pretend your munitions are fine for the moment. Airedale—A homely man. Berries—Great.

Software by Rob : Personality Traits of the Best Software Developers If you're trying to grow your startup you've come to the right place. Get my 170-page ebook on how to grow a startup and join thousands of self-funded entrepreneurs by subscribing to my newsletter at right. I come from the world of corporate software development. It may not be the most glamorous side of software (it’s nowhere near as interesting as shrinkwrap startups or those fancy-dancy Web 2.0 companies that show up in your browser every time you mistype a domain name), but it’s stable, pays well, and has its own set of challenges that other types of software development know nothing about. For example, when was the last time someone working on the next version of Halo spent three weeks trying to gather people from accounting, marketing, product management, and their call center in order to nail down requirements that would likely change in 2 months once they’ve delivered the software? Or when was the last time someone at 37Signals sat through back to back weeks of JAD sessions?

How to write a book – the short honest truth Every author I know gets asked the same question: How do you write a book? It’s a simple question, but it causes unexpected problems. On the one hand, it’s nice to have people interested in something I do. If I told people I fixed toasters for a living, I doubt I’d get many inquires. But on the other hand, the hand involving people who ask because they have an inkling to do it themselves, is that writing books is a topic so old and so well trod by so many famous people that anyone who asks hoping to discover secret advice is hard to take seriously. Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. If you want to write, kill the magic: a book is just a bunch of writing. Writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. Getting published. 30% of the time the real thing people are asking is how do you find a publisher. The sticking point for most wanna-be published authors is, again, the work. Discouraged yet?

Why you fail at writing One reason people fail at writing is simply they don’t know how to read well. When you write a page, you end up having to reread it many times. If you can’t read well, you probably can’t write well either. It seems counter-intuitive, but a way to be a better writer is to become a better reader first. People say they get stuck. Another common reason is found in this popular question: I really really want to write a book. Some things can not be done. If you don’t like writing a sentence, odds are good you won’t like paragraphs, and if you don’t like paragraphs you’ll be really pissed off when you learn about these things called pages (chapters will blow your mind). There is a big difference between wanting to say you wrote a book, and actually writing one. “A writer who isn’t writing is asking for trouble.” – Walter Kirn Many books are written by ghostwriters. Thousands of people start books and then stop. But many people who fail at writing really didn’t want to write in the first place.

The Research Paper: Developing Historical Questions What Is It? A way to teach students how to develop historical questions. This is the beginning of a multi-step research paper process that encourages sophisticated historical thinking. Rationale It’s no secret that high schools across the country are turning away from the decidedly “old-school” research paper in favor of shorter writing assignments or a variety of “new-school” technology based projects like blogs or webpages. Description Our research paper process guides students using a system with a seven-part structure (more detail on the entire process can be found here). Teacher Preparation Identify and model the qualities of good historical questions, as described in Handout 1, throughout the course (e.g. as lecture openings, test essays, class discussions, and at the beginning or end of structured debates). Sequence in the Classroom Each student develops a list of subjects about which she is interested (e.g. music, politics, arts, family life). Example Common Pitfalls Fischer, David.

The Proletarian Writer Broadcast in the Home Service of the B.B.C., 6 December 1940; printed in The Listener, 19 December 1940. Discussion between George Orwell and Desmond Hawkins Desmond Hawkins was an author, editor and radio personality. Hawkins: I have always doubted if there is such a thing as proletarian literature — or ever could be. Orwell: No, obviously not. Hawkins: Still, I think one must admit that the cult of proletarian literature — whether the theory is right or not — has had some effect. Orwell: I think it is simply a matter of education. Hawkins: Then, after all, the appearance of the proletariat as a class capable of producing books means a fresh development of literature — completely new subject-matter, and a new slant on life? Orwell: Yes, except in so far as the experience of all classes in society tends to become more and more alike. Hawkins: And how about language and technique? Orwell: I think in the main that’s true. Orwell: I think that’s putting it too crudely. Orwell: Oh yes, lots.

how to be interesting While I was at the U of O I kept going on about how the core skill of any future creative business person will be 'being interesting'. People will employ and want to work with (and want to be with) interesting people. And since I’d spent quite a lot of time telling them all the things they should stop doing I’d thought I’d try and teach something useful. Since I don't actually know anything useful I had to make something up. Which is below. It takes about 10 minutes to teach but it’ll take a lifetime for people to work out if it works or not, and by then I’ll be long gone. I’ve based it on two assumptions: The way to be interesting is to be interested. Interesting people are good at sharing. The marvelous thing about tinterweb is that it’s got great tools for being interested and great tools for sharing. It's sort of didactic, bossy even, but it's supposed to be instructional, rules you can follow. 1. You should carry a camera with you. 2. This is pretty easy. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

How to Write a Book - Writing a Book Guide Is your book idea good? (Yes, I promise) “If you write for yourself, you’ll always have an audience.” -Bruce Springsteen“We can secure other people’s approval if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that. - Mark Twain It will take many hours to write a book. Therefore, you should write about something you, the writer, finds interesting. “Will anyone care about my story?” Many people with an idea want me to tell them their idea is worthy. Don’t wait for permission. If you care about the idea for the book, do it. If in the end if only one other person gets value from what you make, that alone justifies your efforts. If an idea lingers in your mind, and won’t leave you alone, just do it. If you think the story should be told, whether it’s yours, your Mom’s, or your imaginary friend Rupert’s, you are the only person in the world capable of telling it in the way you have it in your mind. So what if your idea is not original. Get started.

Fifteen Writing Exercises Writing exercises are a great way to increase your writing skills and generate new ideas. They give you perspective and help you break free from old patterns and crutches. To grow as a writer, you need to sometimes write without the expectation of publication or worry about who will read your work. Pick ten people you know and write a one-sentence description for each of them.

Film School: How to write an ending- Flixist Good afternoon, class. Please settle down. Tomkins, put that finger away. There's the old saying, 'first impressions count'. Let's start off with the basics. I'm not going to go through what each part means, partly because it would take too long and partly because it's fairly self-explanatory, but having the structure laid out in a graph like the one above does illustrate an important point about endings. That point is that they are just as important when developing your plot as the beginning and the middle. The way to avoid this is as simple as could be: don't rush. If you're anything like me, knowing your ending is a vital part in discovering that technique. The point of considering the apex of your themes before the beginning is that it's easier to retrospectively work out how that point is reached, rather than trying to tie things up on the fly. Speaking of game-changers, there's a reason that Vader's revelation has gone down as one of the most quoted lines in pop culture.

Fire And Motion by Joel Spolsky Sunday, January 06, 2002 Sometimes I just can't get anything done. Sure, I come into the office, putter around, check my email every ten seconds, read the web, even do a few brainless tasks like paying the American Express bill. These bouts of unproductiveness usually last for a day or two. Everybody has mood swings; for some people they are mild, for others, they can be more pronounced or even dysfunctional. It makes me think of those researchers who say that basically people can't control what they eat, so any attempt to diet is bound to be short term and they will always yoyo back to their natural weight. What drives me crazy is that ever since my first job I've realized that as a developer, I usually average about two or three hours a day of productive coding. But it's not the days when I "only" get two hours of work done that worry me. I've thought about this a lot. Once you get into flow it's not too hard to keep going. I remembered this for a long time. Discuss Next: