Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: read

Boosting Your #Creativity

I’m going to share two ways to boost creativity—a website and a particular article on that site… Medium

The site is called Medium and here’s a bit of what they say about themselves:

“Medium is a different kind of place to read and write on the internet.

“A place where the measure of success isn’t views, but viewpoints.

“Where the quality of the idea matters, not the author’s qualifications.

“A place where conversation pushes ideas forward and words still matter.”

The thing is, you can read there; but also, you can write there:

“However, the real value of Medium isn’t our tools. It’s all about the network, the connections with other people, and the stories you create. Well-designed networks reduce friction and help good stuff be found. Connections allow the whole to become greater than the sum of the parts and new paths to discover and build meaning. After all, isn’t that what every writer wants?”

Interaction is Key:

“Reading these stories is not passive. Every highlight you leave changes the way others interpret the story — and maybe even the way the author thinks about what they wrote.”

So, boost your creativity by reading great articles on Medium (you can follow particular writers and/or follow tagged ideas) and share your creativity on Medium by writing articles.

And, here’s their Huge Promise:

“When you sign up for Medium, you are joining a community of millions of thinkers and doers offering their best ideas and moving conversation forward on the biggest issues and interests of the day. Because great writing deserves a great audience.”

And, here’s an article from Medium to start you off—9 Ways To Dramatically Improve Your Creativity.

To encourage you to take that link, here are the topics discussed in the article:

1. Learn Through Collaboration
2. Do Something You Love
3. Find Inspiration From Other Industries
4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)
5. Walk
6. Set the Right Mood
7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique
8. Ask For Advice or Feedback
9. Pick a Terrible Idea

I dare ya to go read what Larry Kim says about those ideas; and, that link of his name will take you to other articles he has on Medium :-)
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Etymologies & Thesaurus Trees

I think it’s time to show the Word Histories and Synonyms for the three Main Topics of this blog:

Reading, Writing, & Publishing.

The etymologies are from the Oxford Online Dictionary Pro:

Old English rae-dan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch raden and German raten ‘advise, guess’. Early senses included ‘advise’ and ‘interpret (a riddle or dream’)

Old English wri-tan ‘score, form (letters) by carving, write’, of Germanic origin; related to German reissen ‘sketch, drag’

Middle English (in the sense ‘make generally known’): from the stem of Old French puplier, from Latin publicare ‘make public’, from publicus

And, the synonyms are from the ThinkMap Visual Thesaurus:



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The Art of Creative Reading . . .

As you can see from the subtitle of this blog, it’s about Reading, Writing, and Publishing.

Because of an on-going survey of reader desires, writing gets most of the attention.

But, checking the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar shows “read” = 20 posts, “reader” = 40 posts, “readers” = 16 posts, and “reading” = 51 posts; though, I’m sure some of those numbers overlap; and, this post will add another post to each of those categories

There are two special posts here about reading that a friend said were so “technical” that they couldn’t even come up with a comment; though, they apparently liked the posts: What Happens When We Read? ~ Part One and What Happens When We Read? ~ Part Two.

I’ve had to constrain my normal desire to read with abandon for the last long while because I’ve been involved in writing an important series of books.

When the next one is published, I’m going on a reading sabbatical with my Kindle :-)

As some of you know, I’m the Events Manager for Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

Every Saturday we have Readers’ Chat, a fun and wide-ranging free discussion of any and all books as well as surprising sessions about the act of reading itself.

Last Saturday, someone shared a link to the blog Creative Reading by Wouter Hanegraaff, Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.

There are only 8 posts on the blog and I’m hoping some of you are interested enough to visit and, perhaps, induce Wouter to write more :-)

His quote in the banner of the blog is interesting:

“‘As academics we are expected to write and publish, but we are not supposed to waste our time reading.’ This remark by a colleague—as absurd as it is true—inspired me to start this blog. Yes: as an academic in the field of the Humanities I spend much of my time reading, and on this blog you can see how that works. If scholarly writing has any value at all, then the reading that precedes it deserves respect as an integral part of the creative process that leads to knowledge and understanding.”

If all this talk of reading has gotten some of you writers fidgeting, why not read the past post, How To Read Like A Writer :-)
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What Should You Read Next?

How do you choose what to read next?


Ask a friend?

Browse a bookstore?

Browse a WebSite?

Go to a library?

Well, I found another way—based on other readers’ favorites and used over 10 million times

And, it’s called, ever so appropriately, What Should I Read Next? :-)

I’ve checked it out and it seems to have some merit.

What I’d really like, though, is for you to check it out and come back and let me know what you think in our comments.


Good :-)
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Readability ~ Can Your Readers Understand You?

Whether you write novels, scientific articles, literary essays, or blogs (and, perhaps it’s not too optimistic to include legal explanations…) your reader needs to understand the writing; otherwise, there’s poor commune-ication.

Yeah, I sort of misspelled the last word in that sentence but the roots of communication tell the story: “to make common”.

You may have tried various Readability Tools but I found one that gives six results from different schemes of measurement.

David Simpson, Senior Developer and Solutions Architect at AppFusions, created The Readability Test Tool that lets you enter text manually or enter a url to test a web page.

I put the first scene of my novel in (you can get a free copy in the left side-bar) and got my six scores—not bad results for automated methods :-)

And, since I like to experiment on this blog, I’ll put that scene from my book here and show the scores after it—I suppose the experiment is for you to gauge the scene’s readability for yourself and compare your impressions with the site’s results
He was ready to go but delayed slipping the bonds for a moment as he bid farewell in his mind to the daughter he’d never met. He knew his work for the Angan Corporation was critical―he was the leader of the first expedition to another World; but, Velu, his unknown daughter, would probably not know he’d done it.

“Rednaxela”, said his Artificial Intelligence unit from its space on the console, “we are fourteen seconds past the time set for slipping the magnetic bonds.”

“Yes, Morna, my dearest AI, I know; bidding farewell to folks in my mind.”

“The part of your mind I will not let myself access.”

“Yes, Morna, the only part of myself that’s still private.”

“Twenty-five seconds past bond-slipping.”

“Initiate, Morna.”

The two-mile-wide, circular ship released its invisible hold on the mooring dock and began its 2,800,000-mile voyage to the planet next out from Anga in the Angi System―planet of mystery, inhabited by people completely engrossed in religion―Anla, the destination of Rednaxela, his thoughts, and 95,000 passengers.

Morna continued verbalizing her obligatory oversight tasks: “Plasma screen active, passengers secure, orbital laser supplying thrust, tethered laser stable, light-sail stable, ship systems nominal.”

ShipOne it was called: a simple, efficient name that Rednaxela did not like. Something more was called for, some larger idea―Proteus, Primus, something; even Rugra-One, its Class name. He strode to the hatch leading to the transport tube as he said, “Morna, I’m going to check on our prize passenger.”

“Only place worth going on a ship full of criminals.”

“Settlers, Morna, settlers.”

“Yes, criminal-settlers.”

“It’s a good thing you’re my AI and not a child of the Corporate Mesh.”

“It’s a good thing we have plasma shielding from the Corporate Mesh.”

The arrangement was completely unique but absolutely necessary. The Mesh, corporate or public, operated through electronics that were capable of responding to the streams of plasma surrounding and interpenetrating Anga. The Mesh was the Corporation’s mode of communication and control and it was critical to the planet’s efficient operation. Yet, this voyage, made when Anga and Anla were closest in their orbits, had to be flown through the plasma tail that Anga streamed away from its star. The plasma tail reached to Anla and beyond and, because of the closeness of the planets, it was a tail that could clearly carry the thoughts and feelings of every passenger into the minds of the priests on Anla, priests who were expecting merely settlers, not criminals. To be more precise, they were not expecting any criminals except Akla who Rednaxela was on his way to see.

“Morna, the shielding is to keep the Anlans from—”


He’d never heard her raise her voice.

“Do please continue, my sweet AI.”

“I know why the Corporation chose you but they didn’t take enough time to analyze the results of our interaction.”

“Morna, what the hell are you talking about?”

“You are the Corporation’s ambassador but I think you could also be their worst nightmare.”

“Morna, I wish you had an off switch. Look, we’ll talk about your speculations later. I need to go perform my duty as an interrogator.”

Rednaxela stepped over the sill of the hatch but stepped right back into the bridge. He walked up to the AI’s physical form―a box of exotic, plasma-infused electronics―and said: “What do you make of the Anlans’ specifically asking for Akla?”

“He is believed by the Harians of Anga to be a Prophet and a sect on Anla called the Nari claim the same thing. The Nari have apparently been waiting for him to arrive from Anga.”

“You have a bad habit of repeating what you know I already know, Morna.”

“Sometimes I feel it necessary.”

“It’s going to take the whole voyage for me to figure you out.”

“I believe it will take longer than that.”

“Could be, but the leadership on Anla apparently hate the Nari.”


“Asking for a man their enemies worship…”

Morna laughed in his mind and said, “There are obvious reasons and not so obvious reasons. All I will say now is that you were chosen for your unique abilities and your devotion to the Corporation. I think your devotion will be severely tested and your abilities will be sharply honed. Please don’t ask me for reasons yet, I’m still processing the probabilities.”

“I’m still trying to fathom the rush to launch this mission. They could have given us more time to really get acquainted and for me to figure out how you can make deductions on information in my head that I don’t even know I have.”

“There are overriding reasons for the Corporation’s haste, mostly to do with fear. And, there are times when an individual has potentials the Corporation needs and special procedures must be devised. I am a Special Procedure.”

“That you are, Morna. Thankfully, you can still attend to the ship while you’re haunting my mind. Let’s see how our prize criminal is doing.”
Was it somewhat or extremely readable for you?

In the site’s results Green is pretty good and yellow is somewhat ok—at least there was no Red :-)

There are more detailed explanations of results on the site

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