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.

I Found A Diary In A Pile Of Used Books And I’m Terrified That The Story Of This Missing Person Is True | Thought Catalog

Pranks are all fun and games until something goes horribly wrong. But occasionally, the fun lies in not knowing which way things will go. We are working with GSN’s terrifying new game show Hellevator, to bring you a story about what can go wrong when a mean-spirited game goes too far. Catch the series premiere of Hellevator Wednesday October 21 at 8/7c.

30dagarmedanalhus / CC BY http://2.0 / flickr.com/photos/-dear-diary/5034427856/30dagarmedanalhus / CC BY http://2.0 / flickr.com/photos/-dear-diary/5034427856/

Before you say anything, yes, I’ll be going to the police. But I wanted to share this with you first.

So my local grocery store, it has this cool thing, see? Right as you walk out with your groceries, there’s this bookshelf. It’s not tidy or orderly but it’s cool, it’s a used book service. You can bring your own for others to read or you can grab one to take home, just stick a dollar in the jar for charity. Honor system.

I’ve snagged a few good ones, nothing super popular or anything but some good true crime stuff. Couple of old mysteries. Then… this.

I first noticed its worn, rosy pink leather with the word “SECRETS” debossed in faded silver. A lock hung uselessly off the side of the book, broken.

I’ll be honest, I thought it was a gimmick. “Secrets” was the title and it was clever marketing shit to get me to pick it up. I thumbed through it–handwritten pages, a pale pink ribbon to mark your spot–and decided to bring the thing home.

I already told you, I’m going to the police. But this is what I found inside, starting on page one.

March 11, 1991

Brad is gone and it’s all my fault. It’s been three days.

I know I flew off the handle. I said things I can’t take back but goddamn it he’s just such a jerk sometimes. We’re supposed to do that big-brother little-sister shit but that got old after we graduated high school.
Mom’s inconsolable. She keeps saying it’s just one of his pranks. “He’ll be back, Jennifer. He’s just playing one of his ‘games’.”

I know all about Brad’s “games”. He was famous for them as a kid and you’d think he’d grow out of it, a guy in his 20s with a job and car insurance, but no—Brad still found time to pour icewater in my shower or trap my deodorant in a jello mold. I don’t know why I moved in with him in the first place.

Yes I do. Because I don’t have the money for my own place.

But Brad was nice about it, at first. He said it’d be fun to live together. Even offered to take me out for my birthday. I should’ve known better.

Mom gave me this journal when I was a little kid. I found it when I moved, thought it was lame and didn’t really give it a second thought. Now that Brad’s gone, though, I feel awful and I thought maybe writing about it would help. Anything’s better than listening to the police talking to Mom in the kitchen, telling her that they’re still looking, but more than 48 hours has passed and those are the most important when a person goes missing.

March 12, 1991

Brad is still gone. He’s still not home. The police told Mom he’s probably just blowing off some steam, he’s a youngish guy and he might just be slumming it somewhere, getting drunk or hooking up.
They don’t know that we were already drunk when it happened. I should’ve told them that in the beginning, I guess.

I thought I heard stuff moving around in my kitchen last night but when I got up, no one was out there. The cabinet doors were open but maybe I forgot to shut them.
I haven’t been sleeping much.

March 15, 1991

Mom just sits in her bedroom and cries. She won’t come out and talk to me so I go back to my empty apartment. It’s a lot quieter without Brad.

Brad’s been gone for a whole week now. They’ve been putting up pictures of his face all over town. He’ll probably be on the news soon.

I’m trying to make myself write about what happened but it’s hard.

We’d been drinking, like I said. Wandering back from downtown because we were celebrating my birthday and we were both too smashed to drive. Got to this sketchy part of town and I knew it was Brad, he’d lead us there on purpose.

I told him it was shitty, he was a guy and he might think it was funny—one of his “games”—but us girls know the bad part of town at night and drunk is just a recipe for disaster.

He didn’t care. He said, “C’mon, let’s check out this building, I hear it’s haunted!”

That’s Brad for you. I’m drunk and hungry on my birthday, thinking we might just have a good time as brother and sister for once, and he leads me to an abandoned building at midnight.

I begged him not to go in but he went ahead anyway and I didn’t have a choice — if I didn’t follow him, I’d be alone, so I went in with him.

He shouldn’t have gone there. He shouldn’t have made me go.

I don’t feel like writing anymore.

March 17, 1991

I keep waking up in the middle of the night. Weird enough it’s the same time every night: 2:36 am. It’s probably just nerves but I feel like someone’s watching me.

Brad’s still gone.

March 18, 1991

Why did Brad insist on going in that building? Why couldn’t we have just had a nice time for my birthday?

I followed him into that building, this hulking monstrosity that was probably an old apartment complex or something, a place that no doubt wasn’t haunted at all but just an excuse for Brad to play one of his “games”. I mean, I should’ve known that, I guess.

He started running up the stairs. Taking them two at a time. I had to take off my heels to catch up to him and was scared the whole time like I might step on a hypodermic needle or something. This place was a real dump.

I almost fell down the stairs and that made me mad, I almost dropped my shoes and when I rounded the corner to tell him so Brad jumped out from behind a big hunk of concrete and yelled “BOO!” Like a stupid little kid.

Except it worked, I screamed and dropped my shoes AND my purse and they went tumbling down the broken concrete steps and Brad just laughed and laughed and laughed.

I got so mad. I started hitting him. I don’t think I would’ve been as mad if I hadn’t been drunk but I was.

He was laughing still, backing away and shielding himself with his arms while I slapped and shrieked that he was an asshole, he was the worst brother ever, he was a shitty person and a horrible roommate and the only reason I was even living with him was because I was too broke for my own place and if I had the money I wouldn’t bother to see him ever again.

Yeah, it was mean. But I meant it.

What I didn’t mean was for Brad to keep backing up while I swatted at him. I wanted him to stand there and take it but he kept laughing and backing up and all of a sudden he was gone.

He was there, right there in front of me, and then gone, down the open elevator shaft neither of us saw. Down all five floors. If I had to guess, it was probably 2:36 am.

I’m only writing this because my apartment isn’t so quiet anymore. Brad’s still gone but… he’s not.
I think he followed me home.

March 20, 1991

Okay, Brad, see? I’m doing it. I’m writing. Stop screaming at me. I can’t take the screaming.

When he fell down the elevator shaft I should’ve gone for help but I didn’t. I was scared, okay? I was worried someone would think I pushed him and I don’t know, maybe I sort of did, so I didn’t go for help. I covered him with rubble and debris and I left him there because I thought they’d find him and maybe think he got murdered for his wallet or something but they haven’t found him and at this point it’s too late to tell the cops or I’ll be implicated.

I can’t tell them, Brad, please stop screaming!

March 26, 1991

Brad wants me to go to the police but I can’t. I don’t want to go to prison. He keeps playing these pranks, stacking all my chairs on top of each other, turning all the pictures on the wall backwards, making the faucets run blood instead of water. It’s his stupid games but now they’re worse because he’s angry and now he has more power.

I hoped just writing it out would help but he’s not happy. He wants me to pay but I did, I paid just by being his sister. Something like this was bound to happen, you know? Him and his “games”.

I’m starting to get pretty scared but I don’t know what to do.

March 30, 1991

This is Jennifer I did it I pushed Brad

Brad is never coming back so I did what I had to do

Consider this my suicide note

Brad is gone and it’s all my fault TC mark

This post is brought to you by Hellevator – the terrifying new game show premiering Wed Oct 21 8/7 C on GSN.

I Found A Diary In A Pile Of Used Books And I’m Terrified That The Story Of This Missing Person Is True | Thought Catalog.Source: I Found A Diary In A Pile Of Used Books And I’m Terrified That The Story Of This Missing Person Is True | Thought Catalog

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

How Many Manifestos Have you Written?

The CopyBlogger prompt for September is to write a manifesto. I feel I’ve done that, more than a few times over. Writing a manifesto can be draining. As great as they are, you might limit them to not more than one epic manifesto a week.

This month — why not try a manifesto?

I define this as an impassioned rant about what matters the most to you, and why.

A great place to start is:

What makes you genuinely angry?

What do you wish people would quit doing? What do you wish people would start doing? What frustrates you? What scares you?

What breaks your heart?

Create an Intersection of Ideas

I especially like the CopyBlogger Content Excellence Challenge, August Prompt:

This month, bring some of your “off topic” passions into your content.

Now, you still need to make it relevant to your audience. This isn’t a permission slip to create content they don’t care about.

Your job is to look for unexpected connections. How can you bring your passion for Marvel comics into your fitness business? Where are the points of intersection between your love of Mark Twain and your personal finance blog?

Nearly 10 years ago, Brian called this the “content crossroads” — the point at which seemingly unrelated ideas connect. And there are always interesting things to be found at the crossroads.

The following is quoted from the post linked above, by Brian Clark. I reposted the points because they are all great points and I know they have worked well for me most of my life. I especially believe in listening to people I don’t agree with. Not an easy thing to do. Some people you don’t agree with just because of who they are. or who you think they are. Listen anyway. You don’t have to spend the day listening, just enough to know you heard them. Listening does not require you to change your mind, just hear what someone else thinks, believes and has experienced.

1. Learn for life.

To me, this is the most important and essential trait for any creative person. You’ve got to go well beyond learning everything in your niche and try to simply learn everything. Naturally curious people seem to come up with ideas easier than most, so kick your curiosity up a notch and investigate any topic that interests you. Then, learn about things that don’t interest you—you might be surprised by what you end up enjoying. You’ll also see more connections between things you thought were unrelated.

2. Change perspective.

Leonardo da Vinci believed that to truly understand something, you need to look at it from at least three perspectives. Leo did alright for himself, so maybe his advice is solid. The ability to look at something that everyone else is looking at and see it differently is the hallmark of creative thinking, and practice makes perfect. Train yourself to dispense with the commodity of opinion and examine things from multiple perspectives. You’ll be amazed at what you find when you play Devil’s Advocate.

3. Free your mind.

Many people think that creativity is something to schedule, like a staff meeting or a luncheon. While setting aside time for “brainstorming” and “thinking outside the box” can be helpful, you’re still perpetuating an illusion. The truth is, there is no box, and you have the ability to be creative at any moment. Allow yourself to recognize your own delusions and social constructs, and start questioning your assumptions at every opportunity. Better yet, reverse your assumptions and see where you end up.

4. Travel.

One of the great benefits of online business is freedom from the tyranny of geography. And the more we see of the world and different cultures, the more our minds open up and see limitless connections and possibilities. One of the worst things we do to ourselves in terms of creativity is to stay within the realm of the familiar. So make it a point to get out, do new things, and travel to new places. You’ll have to check with your accountant to see if a trip to Prague counts as a business expense, but there’s no doubt it can seriously help your business.

5. Listen.

Are you a talker or a listener? This is something I’ve really tried to work on, because I learn so much when I shut up and listen. Every person you meet has a perspective that differs from yours, and you can learn amazing things from simply listening. Just like the Medici family brought all sorts of different people together and sparked something phenomenal, you too can create a content renaissance by interacting with as many different people as possible. Don’t hang out with people who reflect your existing beliefs, hang out with people who challenge you.

Play with your Words When you Write

Do you play with your words when you write?

Writing nonfiction can become dry, there is the expectation that your words are limited, without excess. Fiction writing is where you can think about how words fit together, how they sound when read, various meanings and ways to describe emotions, actions, etc. Fiction writers get to play with language readers may need a dictionary to find. Nonfiction writers are supposed to make sense, be easily read and come to a point.

I don’t entirely agree with that idea of nonfiction writing.

Beyond wiggling around with facts and swaying opinions, nonfiction writers can play with their words too.

Try a new word.

Look for words you often use and change them for a new word. Find a new synonym for an old word. There are lots of sites to look at, or try the local library.

Take out a word.

Eliminate a connecting word you often use and see if everything works, in spite of it. A good word to try is ‘that’. I watch for it myself. It is over used and doesn’t always need to be used at all. My last sentence has a few extra words. Take a look at it, edit it and then read your new version. Do the extra words make a difference, or are they just extra words?

Play with sound.

Some words have a crisp sound. They can be sharp and clear. Short words work well this way. Where do you put your short words? Move words around in a sentence and then read each version out loud. Change it around until you have a sentence that reads well, when spoken.

Play with sound patterns, like poetry. Turn an ordinary sentence into a haiku. Turn another sentence into a limerick, rewrite it so the pattern works even though the words are not a limerick.

Playing with your words helps avoid burnout because you go back to what you like about writing – the writing itself. Plus, it becomes about and for yourself, not just what will please your readers.

Writers who spend all their time “creating content” run the risk of burnout … and extreme creative boredom.

The bonus prompt: to sharpen your skills and perfect your craft, schedule some time to play with words
Screenwriting, playwriting, fiction, and poetry are all delicious ways to play with language, sound, and meaning…

From Copyblogger.

How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.
Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.
“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.