Find an Alter Ego

I wrote about this idea before. I still think it’s a clever way to trick yourself into getting things done. I didn’t go as far as creating a character for my alter ego. But, it does help to distract yourself from believing you can’t do it.

If you break it down, what does the task really require, at it’s most basic. You can do it if you think of it as just talking (for instance) and don’t get caught up in expecting things to be harder than they are.

“Fake it until you make it”.

From CopyBlogger:

This month’s creativity prompt is to invent an alter ego who’s great at the thing you’re not good at.

You’re going to imagine this person as a character in a novel or a film. Know what they look like, how they talk, what they wear, where they live.

Then, when you’re doing the challenging activity, you’re going to write as that character.

You don’t have to be a fiction writer to pull this off. It’s much easier to do in writing than it is to try face to face or on the phone, although those are also options if you feel ready for Expert Mode.

Are you too timid when you discuss your services with a client? Write a pitch using the voice of an ultra confident alter ego.

Are you too blunt when you email colleagues? Write an email using the voice of a nurturing, benevolent earth mama.

You don’t have to share what you write — but you may well find that you want to. When it’s time to be tough, or patient, or steely, or suave, it’s handy to have a well-developed alter ego who can handle those states effortlessly.

Five Types of Content Curation

In a nutshell, content curation is about gathering information, formatting it and adding your own editorial, comments, or something to it. The point is, you add something to the collection of information. This is what makes it curation instead of just a collection. It is a planned collection, with a purpose and information to (at least) explain why the information was collected, a point to it all.

Five types of content curation:

Aggregation – Aggregation can be a top ten list. Often information collected this way uses software of one kind of another. Too many people pull together information this way and dump it in a pile, without adding anything to it. Don’t do it this way. Add something of value to the collection of information. You could just explain why or how you collected the information.

Distillation – Planning a collection involves deciding what is and is not important or relevant enough. Taking a collection of information and filtering through it for the best resources helps build a better resource. Likely your readers could search Google themselves, so planning and condensing information, with your own added thoughts, saves readers time and gives them better insights.

Elevation – Adding something to a collection of information to make sense of it all. This could be in how you present the information, the formatting, or information you add to make the collection of information a resource for readers.

Mashups – A combination of anything and everything with a less organized format/ presentation. The real point to a mashup is the information you bring to it yourself. The resources are quoted but the real point of the curated collection are your own thoughts, opinions, discoveries, reviews and etc.

Chronology – Information presented in order of timelines, presented by date from start to finish or from the end result going back to how it all began. This requires research and filtering and planning the format. Keep it tidy, easy to read and navigate.

Can you think of other styles or types of content curation?

Idea Brainstorming in List Format

I make grocery lists. I write them long hand, sometimes I even use cursive writing. I like still having something to write. A time when I don’t type away at the keyboard. I miss writing long hand. But, I get writer’s cramp far sooner than I ever did before word processing evolved.

I write other lists too. Often I think they are silly and useless lists of ideas. Most of the time I don’t look at them again. I don’t really need to because I have so many ongoing lists of ideas I am never short of a fresh list. Even if I don’t use my lists in a productive way, they are fun to write. They do lead to new ideas and connections. So, even if you make dozens of lists, the brainstorming process is still worthwhile.

Start in one place, one idea and see where you end up.

From CopyBlogger, November Content Excellence Challenge prompt:

This is her suggestion on how to very quickly brainstorm dozens of ideas about topics you’re genuinely passionate about. I’ll use her words to describe the process, which I’ll bet you can knock out this afternoon:

“… list out 10–20 ideas or topics you vehemently disagree with in your market. Then, list out 5–10 aspects or features of your product or service that you’re incredibly passionate about. Finally, list out 5–10 misconceptions your potential customers make and how your offer turns them around.

“You now have a huge list of things you can speak or write enthusiastically about. Try creating emails, blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos from this list. Try speaking to local groups about something on the list. Try bringing up list items in your next sales call.”

– Tara Gentile, Creative Live

There’s a Word for That

Haughty and fastidious.

I read a post about feet. I didn’t read it for the information, but the attitude of the writer. There seems to be a common attitude which (to me) is overly fussy, disapproving and expecting approval. I wanted to find a word for it. I still haven’t found just one exact word but I’ve come close. (Peevish, fussy, censoring, and others).
I found a reverse lookup for words. A handy tool for word lovers, or Scrabble players.
A great site to have bookmarked for those days you know there’s a word for that… if you could just think of it.

Tension

When I think of tension I think, surface tension. I remember a film about spiders which showed one sitting on top of the water in a glass. The hair on it’s legs created surface tension which kept it from getting wet in the water. It could just sit on the surface, due to surface tension.

I think it’s a great illustration for tension. Any change to the elements involved and the spider would begin to sink, need to swim or grab the edge of the glass to prevent itself from drowning. Tension is like that. The moment before, or the balance between, something else happening. Tension can change your story. As a writer I think you can use tension to develop your plot in ways you hadn’t planned on at the beginning. It brings so many new possibilities and reactions.

Tension is something about to change and that’s exciting.

tension

Found on: Get Scribbling

Sell Your Writing on Etsy

Self publishing lets writers choose what they want to publish and… the format they will use. Most often the format is digital now. But… consider going back to print. You can print publish your own content without a big name publisher, or a literary agent. Self publish your own zine and distribute it online through Etsy (or other online stores like it).

I was surprised at how many zines are being distributed through Etsy, in particular. Most are sent as do-it-yourself publications, on paper and mailed out to buyers. However, there is the option of selling a digital copy which people buy and then print themselves. There are pluses and minuses for both. A digital copy is easier to distribute, no mail service involved. But, the print copy gives the writer options. A print publication can be mailed out with extras. I’ve seen publishers make their own stickers and buttons. You could also create calendars for yearly subscribers. There are a lot of extras you could do with your own print publication.

It’s a new (retro) way of self publishing.

teamzineLink: Team Zine – Etsy Teams

Who Knows What You’re Talking About?

The current dmoz Tip of the Fortnight

It is considered bad form to use slang or abbreviations like “info”, “pics”, “etc” and “bio”. Using the full form of the word is not only more professional but is also easier for our users, whose native language may not be English, to understand or translate.

A very good tip. Every writer should remember not to use slang and abbreviations, unless they are very well known by the general public. Some sites or publications may have a very narrow readership they can focus on. But, even those sites could have a glossary or some way to understand their abbreviations.

Why send your readers to some other site to look up the words, slang or short forms you use?

Using Deep Captions

4. Use “deep captions”Studies have shown that image captions are consistently some of the most-read copy on a page. Try pairing a strong image with a “deep caption.”Deep captions are two to three sentences long. That’s long enough to intrigue your reader to dig into your whole article.

Source: 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content – Copyblogger –

This was the most interesting point for me because I don’t use any captions. But, I do read them on other sites, especially when I’m skim reading. Most people are skim reading. I know it’s not just me any more. Ha! to those who laughed at me for admitting it back then. I was just an early adopter, yet again. Not that I promote skim reading as a good thing. There are times I’ve missed the relevant point due to skim reading. But, that is partially the fault of the writer. We should be writing for skim readers these days. We know most people are skimming, not reading your every word.

Write for the skimmers and maybe they will become readers.

Meanwhile… I’m going to think about writing captions. But, I’d have to add more images for that to work and I’ve been trying to skip the images unless they really have some relevance. As a skim reader and a web publisher, I’m really tired of images there for the sake of having an image with the post. I still think an image should be included in a post for a reason other than adding colour to your post.  Otherwise you could just post a generic image with a link to your site.

There’s a Word for That

Haughty and fastidious.

I read a post about feet. I didn’t read it for the information, but the attitude of the writer. There seems to be a common attitude which (to me) is overly fussy, disapproving and expecting approval. I wanted to find a word for it. I still haven’t found just one exact word but I’ve come close. (Peevish, fussy, censoring, and others).

I found a reverse lookup for words. A handy tool for word lovers, or Scrabble players.

OneLook Reverse Dictionary and Thesaurus

A great site to have bookmarked for those days you know there’s a word for that… if you could just think of it.

Thank Your Readers

Dear Reader,

If you find elegance, or anything of value in the following tale, it will be something you brought in with you. No need to be kind, this story is like an overfed Canada goose lumbering along, unable to get enough lift to fly, deciding to lump through winter, taking handouts from nature loving city dwellers. Thank you for reading and bringing something of value to an old, fat goose.

I remember books in which the writer addresses the reader, like a narrator taking them along through the story. I don’t know (or remember) the literary name for this. For whatever reason the above Dear Reader was in my brain as I woke up this morning.

What would you write to your own Reader? What style or tone works for you?