Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: write

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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What Is A Genre & Should You Try To Write In One?

“Genre” simply means a kind or type of writing.

Some folks have even criticized the whole concept of genre.

If you look the word up in Wikipedia, you’ll see a questioning of the genre of the very article about genre:

“This article is written like a personal reflection or essay and may require cleanup. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style.”

Wikipedia supplies a list of genres and there’s a much more extensive one here.

So, do writers sit down and think about all the genres and choose a particular one to create within?

Some do and some do it well. Still, some “genre writers” get stuck in the form and fill it with less than original content.

Many writers say they first meet or create their characters and that helps determine the genre. Yet, a book can begin to be written in one genre and end up turning itself into quite a different genre.

And, to include an edit of this post after it was written and published, one could explore mash-ups, where an idea from one genre gets recreated in a potentially jarring genre. Take a gander at Roz Morris’ post on literary mash-ups!

Sometimes a writer finds a plot first but almost any specific plot can happen in a number of different genres.

Also, you don’t have to look far for arguments against genre-writing by folks who try to compare it with “literary” writing–as if a book written in a particular genre automatically becomes non-literary…

You can also find arguments like:

“…even good genre…is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material…If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.  So it follows that genre tends to rely on a simpler reader psychology.”

But the article that contains that quote goes on and extols good genre writing.

So the question of whether a writer should try to write in a particular genre could become completely moot.

What matters most is good writing, creative writing; even writing that pushes hard against genres and rules and conventions–steps up to the literary plate and belts one out of the authorial park :-)
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Write Your Way Out of The Bad Days…

We all have bad days.

Bad days in general and bad days for writing and days when we can’t understand anything we read and days when the hope of publishing turns into the worst idea we’ve ever had…

This blog covers Reading, Writing, and Publishing and I’m still offering, “Write Your Way Out of The Bad Days…”, as an option in all three pursuits.

Let’s say you’re an avid reader, it’s what makes the rest of life bearable, but you hit one of those days when every book you have and even the new ones you trudge out to buy just seem like so many dead words on dead paper from dead trees.

Write Your Way Out of It…

No one has to see what you write. You can even tear it up after you’re done. The thing is, though, that many people smarter than me have recommended writing as a pressure relief valve for all kinds of rotten states of mind.

I was once in a therapy session and my deeply-held bad feelings about my father were the point of focus. The counselor told me to write my father a letter and tell him everything that was wrong with him. Write it, put it in an envelope, seal the envelope, address it, put a stamp on it, and bring it to the next session. {What helped motivate me to accomplish this was that I was checked into a facility I couldn’t leave with ease and the counselor was a former biker, built like the dark lord of an ominous army.}

I wrote, I enveloped, I addressed, I stamped. I showed up at the next session (it was a group) and the counselor took us out to the parking lot and told me to take out the letter. He put down one of the coffee cans we used as outdoor ashtrays, handed me his lighter, and told me to burn the letter.

This might sound like some gimmicky psycho-game but it worked. As the letter flamed away in that dirty coffee can, my hate for my father began to melt away. I can positively date my release from the oppression of blaming my father for what’s wrong with me from the sight of the smoke of that letter…

Well, the reasons for a reader having a bad day don’t have to be quite as dismal. Still, write a letter, write a note, write on the fogged-up window. Let the brain connections to your hand provide a conduit for the release of your murky feelings.

Write whatever you feel, write through the pain to personal resolutions for improvement, write like your life depends on it, write to your heart…

Just write.

You may not feel immediate relief. Sometimes this action is like a time-released medication. Just take the pill and trust in your deeper mind to spread the healing…

I think the writers reading this post have already done various wild things to get them over the hump of a bad writing day. I truly hope they relate their experiences in the Comments :-)

But, hey, you writers! Ever thought about writing about why your writing is bad?

What about bad days in the push to publishing? I’m writing this post because I’m in the middle of one of those days…

I got my book’s manuscript back from my editor a couple weeks ago and was surprised at how few corrections were needed. I met her face-to-face two days ago and it became a two-hour session of her defending my book against every bad thing I’ve had people say about it.

That got me on a high and certain highs can have within them the slippery slopes of ego-inflation…

Yesterday I received the corrections deemed necessary by a special Review Board. You’d have to actually read the book for any explanation of why I submitted it to them to make sense.

This morning, as I went through my email, I linked out to an article about building an author platform (something quite important if a writer wants their book to have a fighting chance at being noticed amongst the 2,000-odd books that will be published the day their own work is released).

The high of ego-inflation from the talk with my editor combined with the vast importance of the necessary revisions from the Review Board as well as the weight from the sheer multiplicity of tasks necessary to prepare for publishing and they imploded. I slid right into a bad, funky, foul-smelling, wicked mood…

So, all that was left was to tell myself:

Write Your Way Out of It…

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Author Interview ~ Simone Benedict

Ever lived in Kansas?

Ever wondered how to escape from Kansas?

Our interview is with an author who can answer yes to both those questions :-)

Without further ado, here’s Simone Benedict.


Let’s start with where you’re from, how old you are, and is Simone Benedict your real name?

I was born and raised in Kansas near the exact center of the continental United States. Currently, I’m living in the same place. I’m in my forties. Simone Benedict is one of my pen names. As happens with some fiction writers, I was categorized into a certain type of writing under other names. The new pen name has helped me to expand my writing into other areas.

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside back then?

I first began to write stories down when I learned cursive writing. I was telling tall tales long before then. I don’t remember feeling anything inside. It just seemed to be a part of who I was. A grade school teacher wrote on one of my papers, “You’re a great story teller!” Inside, I felt proud that she was impressed.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

After I learned to read, I thought I could be a writer like the authors of the books. After being published, it felt good to walk into bookstores and find my work on the shelves. I felt like a writer at that point because my book was with other writers’ books.

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

At this stage in my life, I only hope to do my best. Like everyone, I would like to have one of my novels take off in an astonishing way. Yet, I think more than that I would feel a deep satisfaction if only one person was affected positively by my writing.

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

I didn’t pursue an M.F.A. The degrees I did pursue required a great deal of focused non-fiction writing. I always enrolled in creative writing classes as electives, but they were not of help to me other than requiring me to write. If I could do it over, I would take more care in selecting writing classes that were taught by good writers by reviewing their work before I enrolled in the class.

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

I believe there are two things that have taught me the most about how to write. Reading a lot of books is one. The other is my “hands on” and diverse life experiences. To most people it would seem my life has had no direction and I just hopped around like a vagabond. Of course I hopped around like that. I was busy gathering material. Over time I’ve worked and re-worked the material giving me the experience of how to write.

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

There are so many. My favorite authors include most of the well-known writers. Anais Nin’s Journals affected me because of her beautiful and open style. St. Teresa of Avila’s, The Interior Castle, also affected me because of her brilliant use of language (originally in Spanish) and imagery in describing that which can’t be seen and is not fully understood by anyone. Another author who comes to mind as a favorite is Willa Cather. I’ve always admired her strength in character development.

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

Most of my ideas begin over some situation I see in the real world. Through my writing I imagine other outcomes of the situation I see. Other times, a character comes to mind so I place him or her in small plots which gives me more ideas.

What is your normal revision or editing routine?

After writing, I re-read several times, and at least once aloud to make sure the words “sound” true. I then set it aside for up to a week if I can restrain myself from returning to it for that long. Then, I re-read for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. As I do this, I check for balance in paragraph length, chapter length, and making sure it “looks” right. After that, I place it in my done cabinet and move on to the next project.

Are you published?

I’ve been published. I don’t know when I’ll be published again because I haven’t set any goals. It isn’t something that’s important to me at this point. Writing is.

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?

My blog is silly and sometimes absurd. On occasion, I write posts about writing or my thoughts about a book. I just go by the seat of my pants when deciding what to post. I don’t have a method. As I wrote in a past post, my hope is to eventually narrow the focus of my blog. I hope to stop the silliness and be more serious. I believe this will happen very soon.

Thanks, so much, Simone for taking the time for this interview! And, I hope you keep a little of that silliness in the blog :-)

I hope our readers will put a few questions for you in the comments!!

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