12th May – Keep a One Day Diary for Mass Observation

May 12th 2016 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ can often provide extraordinary results.  The diaries will be held and used alongside the 1937 documents. We would be very grateful if you could document your May 12th for the future.

Please write as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the people you meet, the things you read, see and hear around you, how you are feeling and of course what you yourself think.

Source: 12th May12may

Industrial Urban Noise to Write By

Some people like playlists as audio background while they write. I haven’t found that suits me. The music I like changes my mood, distracts me and I just don’t want to work that way. I could look for white noise, like the TV once the station has gone off the air for the night. But, that’s just a bit too plain and doesn’t seem worth spending the electricity on. I could try the sound of rain, or humpback whales, or the spa music my sister-in-law likes. Those would be nice, enjoyable but… mood altering in a way I don’t really want when I’m writing.

So, what did I think of next… ?

Industrial urban noise – the sound of the subway or street cars in particular. There must be other urban audio recordings for people who don’t want to listen to music or anything too peaceful and harmonious. I’m on the look out for mechanical noises to write by.

The Sadness of the Fixing Things Obsession

I don’t know what the psychological meltdown would be called… that never stopped me.

I have a problem with trying to fix things, restore old and forgotten things. I like history, that’s true. But, it goes beyond that. I like helping the lonely things.

I do know there is a word for people who give personalities to inanimate objects. I don’t keep a lot of stuffed animals. I do have books by the hundreds. Mostly everything else I feel I must fix I find in little online niches these days. (I had to stop buying things to save from the thrift stores but it wasn’t easy and they haunt me when I go in there to look around). Instead of buying these little treasures I post images to Pinterest, or Scoop.it. But, I’ve found myself back at the dmoz directory again and that gives me another outlet for my obsessions with all these little things.

Why do we feel responsible for things?

I know I do. I’m somehow obligated to fix these lonely, forgotten, sad things. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

It’s a burden. I take on more than I can possibly achieve and then I feel I haven’t done enough!

Enough is a good word. Don’t ask what is enough. When is enough is the real question.

You really need to set limits on your obsessions, whatever they may be. I have learned to not buy the little knickknacks at thrift stores. I can take them home but I can not save them. I can not read all the books I have (but I’m not willing to part with them). Just like ideas. I can get thousands of ideas but I can not work on them all.

So I’m fixing myself. It has up days and down days. Often it’s sad. It’s hard to let go of things, especially ideas!

But you can save your ideas. You can save a lot digitally these days rather than keeping a physical (hard copy) of every knickknack and photograph and book. Ideas can be saved too. Write them down and maybe you will even come back to them someday. A lot of them are worth saving but not all of them are practical enough to get your full attention long enough to complete them.

Be satisfied with enough. Learn to love what you do accomplish rather than feeling sad for all you couldn’t do. In the future they’ll have robots to do the work of a hundred people. I can give them a list of things to do right now!

Find a way to make your obsessions sustain you instead of undoing yourself trying to sustain them.

Find a Writing Partner Online

Free interactive site bringing together writers, co-writers and sources for collaborative writing projects in any medium

CaptureSource: Co-Writers.com

I found this link today while looking at Dmoz. It’s an active site. For me, this seems like an interesting way to find someone else to trade ideas with. Better than joining a writing group and then not being able to participate enough to get noticed and meet anyone.

The Art of Coffee at the Keyboard

Who says you can’t glue yourself to your computer and still have a fancy, hot coffee? We want it all and we want it good. So, I’m coming up with ways to have better coffee, without having to put on your coat and be kind to any others in line at the coffee shop.

Make a Stand

Even the oldest, most worn-looking coffee mug, will look fancier if you put it on a pedestal, a short one. I use an old mouse pad I didn’t want to throw away. It elevates my ordinary coffee to a slightly new level. It also makes coffee circles a quick clean up. Just rinse the mouse pad instead of having to clean things off my desk first.

DIY Coffee Art

Of course you can learn how to do your own coffee art. But, that would take time and more equipment than I have on hand. Instead… use a clear glass coffee mug and add cream (or milk, etc.) slowly. Let it swirl around and create patterns. Don’t stir it until you’ve enjoyed the art.

If that doesn’t work for you go with a coffee doodle. Create your own stencil with your last rejection letter. Once you cut out a shape place the stencil over your coffee mug and let some cocoa powder, or cinnamon drift down. It works better if you don’t drink it black but I’m not telling you how to drink your coffee.

Seasonal Coffee at Home

Add a dash of flare to your coffee with cinnamon, a teaspoon of hot chocolate powder,  a touch of pepper, a lick of salt or little vanilla. Make your own pumpkin spice with actual pumpkin pie spices which you can buy in most grocery stores I’ve ever been in. A bit of extra festivity needed… try liquor. I’ve got whiskey at my desk to add when the coffee gets too cold.

Another idea (if you don’t mind crunchy bits between your teeth) is to add doughnut sprinkles and other small but edible things to the outside lip of your coffee mug.  I don’t highly recommend this. But, I don’t add sugar to my coffee, it may be a great idea for those who do like sweet coffee.

Milk It Up

Heat and then froth your milk. You will need some creativity if you don’t have a frother. A French press pot is nice because it can double as a milk frother (just don’t become a wild and crazy plunger and end up getting it stuck, or breaking the pot). Microwaving the milk does an okay job. Don’t walk away while it’s in there and then remove the milk from the surface (unless that milk clog thing doesn’t bother you).

Frothy milk does change the taste of the coffee. It’s creamier. You can use skim milk and get more froth, likely due to having less fat content in the milk.

Put a Lid on It

I will drink cold coffee, by necessity. I don’t love it. Somehow, coffee gets much colder, faster, at my computer desk than it does any where else in the house. I’ve tested this theory countless times.

I tried buying fancier coffee mugs, those thermal types with take-out coffee lids. They didn’t make much difference and they were a nuisance to wash since they are not dishwasher happy. Instead, I now put a lid over my coffee. Any bit of paper works well. An entire letter still in the envelope does a better job and it gives me something to do with the bills I don’t want to open yet.

Another plus side to having a lid – it keeps the bugs out. I admit I have ignored the odd tiny floating fly when I really did want to finish my coffee, but those occasions were rare. Likely there were more occasions when I just didn’t notice the little floaty thing or it sank… well do you really want to go into the details?

coffeeart

Now you have some ideas to help you with your coffee while you write away at the computer. Hope this helps!

Note: I don’t know the source for this image. I found it on another site which had reposted a lot of images. It just suits this post so well. 

Are We Losing the Art of Storytelling?

Are we too impatient to write and too impatient to read?

In our culture we want things quick, short and to the point. That doesn’t work well for fiction writers. Fiction readers may still want a book with depth, character development, rich descriptions, fully developed thoughts and a storyline. However, that takes time to write. Time to craft, plot and rewrite.

A writer gets an idea for a story. It can be written out in a few sentences, just enough for them to come back to later and flesh it out. Or, those few sentences can be shared as they are, instant gratification. The reader will have the idea, but not the story. Would they have taken the time to read it anyway?

I’ve been reading older books, written in the 1800’s. I can see a different writing style in them. Different cultures, different readers and different writers give a book the flavour of the time period it was created in. The story telling is influenced by the culture of the times.

This can work against the story, the book. Some of them are a lot of reading with old fashioned words I have to look up in the dictionary, or just ignore and assume I have the general idea. Descriptions can be endlessly long, at least they seem that way to me, reading them now. The story may wind far off track and give a lot of information which seems unimportant to me, as a modern reader of the old tale.

How will our books seem to future cultures? Even now, in our own time, how much of the richness and depth of the story are we losing?

Don’t think it’s just readers who expect a short story. How often as a writer have you cut things shorter? How often have you not had the patience to let an idea grow and evolve before posting or publishing it? We get an idea and push it out there. We rush our stories. We cut our stories down to size, not just because readers are less likely to read them, but we ourselves are less likely to write them. Move on to the next quick post, the next idea, the next project rather than let the current one take up too much time.

This was a short post. Did you read it all, or skim most of the way looking for bolded text to sum it all up?

Who are you When you Write?

You know what you are writing, who you are intending it for and what you hope to achieve with it… but, do you tell readers who you are? Why is your information important, what is your point of view based on?

Writers don’t need to introduce themselves with an official introduction (though you should have an author bio somewhere). You can slip in information about who you are as you write the information. Write about how you were able to get the information. Write about your experience using the information/ product/ idea. Include yourself in what you write. Don’t keep it sterile as if a machine wrote it.

2. Who are you?Writing comes from someone. Are you writing as scientist, reporting the facts? Are you an angry op-ed writer, seeking political action? Or are you perhaps the voice of an institution, putting up an official warning sign in an official place?

Source: Seth’s Blog: Simple questions for writers

Create Personal Door Signs

My personal door sign would be: Silence is Golden.

We have so much chatter, clutter and noise in our lives every day (and I’m one of the few who choose NOT to add a mobile phone to all of that). I love a quiet day. I might run the TV in the background but I find, more often, I forget to turn it on. I seldom pay attention to it so I don’t miss it when it’s just part of the blessed silence.

Most of the time I don’t need to enforce my sign. I ignore the landline, don’t have any other phone and I can check email when I need some time to procrastinate or take a coffee break. I don’ t live alone however. People are harder to do any enforcing about. But, it would be a weird world if I really were completely alone in it.

In order to let our creative side flourish, we often need to set parameters for ourselves in order to pursue and achieve the things we really want to achieve. Often times we simply need to keep different types of spaces as clear as possible so that we don’t get distracted or held back from what we’re passionate about.

For today’s prompt, write and/or draw three signs that you would hang on your home door, work door, or even your forehead to let others know what you allow and don’t allow in your life. For example, a sign might be, “No Gossiping” or “Please Knock First.”Now write about your signs and how you will enforce them, or how you already enforce them. Are there ways you can communicate your signs without actually posting them? Or should one or more of them be physically posted?

Source: Day 4 #NaJoWriMoPrompt: Create Personal Door Signs – National Journal Writing Month

Before Discovering New Shores

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” — Andre Gide

I like the quote but it leads me to question what the shore is. Where is the shore for you? Is it something you can actually touch and hang onto or is it less tangible? Do you even have a firm idea just where or what your base (shore) is?

I don’t. I’ve moved a lot in my life. I haven’t felt any one place was really mine for a really long time and even that only lasted a short time.

Does that make it easier to leave the shore behind and try new things or harder? Not something I have thought about before.

How about you?

Don’t Give Up Just Give More

If you feel that you will not be able to achieve your goal in the set time period, you can extend the time period. Extending the time period is far better than giving up your goal. When you extend the time period, make sure you give up doing other activities that are less meaningful so that more priority can be given to your goal.

Source: 5 Must Know Things on What to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up Inspiration Success Storys

I liked this tip best from the list. (See above).

I’m a perfectionist. You wouldn’t know it from everything I do but… I am hard on myself. I tend to feel I have failed too easily. Instead of giving myself more time, or getting help, or giving myself a break or looking at what I have done versus what I have not done, I will feel like giving up.

One of the worst things for me to hear is someone saying they want results, not excuses. That’s fine for people who perform like robots and have super powers (or no family with demands and expectations and needs)… I’m not a robot. I don’t want to feel that my life has so little value that it’s just an excuse for why I couldn’t deliver perfection on schedule.

Of course, this does not mean we should all slack off and get around to it eventually. I have high expectations of myself too. But, if someone demands too much they aren’t likely to get it from me. That includes myself!