They say that in order to become a good writer, you have to read a lot and write a lot. This is absolutely true. You also have to keep going…no matter what. And there may be a lot of what. … Continue reading
Hello Friends, I’ve been well, but unusually busy doing radio interviews (some live, some pre-recorded, some in Canada, and some in the States) to promote my e-books and books, as well as blogging for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global. You can … Continue reading
(1) Keep Calm and Fasten Your Seatbelt.
Click here to read.
(2) The Zero-Sum Game.
Click here to read.
(3) 10 Tips to Writing a Great Blog Post.
Click here to read.
(4) How to Write for People Who Don’t Read.
Click here to read.
(5) Enthusiasm: a gift from the gods.
Click here to read.
(6) How to Be Happy, Harmonious & Creative.
Click here to read.
(7) What I Learned in Bulgaria.
Click here to read.
I am very pleased to announce the publication of two of my books: 101 Gold Nuggets of Advice and 101 Gold Nuggets of Advice, 2. These two books offer a total of 202 ‘gold nuggets’ or, pieces of advice for … Continue reading
Although it seems counter intuitive, readers are primarily interested in the author after which they’ll read their books. An author could, for example, write prolifically yet have readers want to know intimate details about them. Readers, I’ve come to understand, long for this intimate knowledge combined with an emotional rapport with the author. It’s that “special bond” that lets readers know you’re human and that you care—about them and the world around you, generally speaking.
Let me tell you a bit about myself
When I was a teenager, I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Manifest Your Destiny. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I already mentioned this. Although I’m repeating myself, I’d like to tell you more about my discovery now.
I read the book in a secret hiding place: our home’s verandah, where all the unused yet accumulated clutter was stored. I chose the verandah because I didn’t want anyone to know I was reading such a book. That’s because, on some level, I knew that what the book said was extremely powerful and that, provided one believed, it could happen. I remember squatting, surrounded by messiness (an old bicycle, my enormous, stuffed Clifford toy), staring at the book’s cover with its yellow hue and smiling author who mesmerized me. I looked at a then younger version of Dr. Dyer wondering, “Who is this man who knows such things?”
After reading the book, I promptly forgot all about it and proceeded to do all of the things (read, societally approved and expected behaviour) that everyone does. The idea, though, that manifesting one’s destiny was possible, however, remained planted somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind. It didn’t fade away. It remained for future reference.
As a teenager reading Dr. Dyer’s book, the idea that I could write books which would be distributed and sold all over the planet arose in my mind. It was probably too much for me to absorb, then, which is why I blocked it out.
There’s a time for everything
In the same way that we can’t force a flower to bloom, we can’t make an idea germinate before its time. Forcing something before its time can have counter productive, not to say disastrous, effects.
Image courtesy of dreamtime.
Today was a wonderful day because I wrote two more chapters for SD: HTLTLYL (abbreviated).
For the past month, my life has been a blur. I’ve been on the go virtually nonstop, performing as if I were a robot instead of a person. I barely had time for grooming let alone writing. Having said that, how can one write when one has no time?
Out of the country and on the road, it seems as if I have zero time. Yet, the moment came when, all of a sudden, in a burst of inspiration, I knew that two more chapters—yes, the more or less predictable two—had arrived.
I wrote. They were good chapters, made sense and seemed to emerge spontaneously. And they were related to the experiences I’d been having.
Writing comes naturally
The honest truth is that I wasn’t able to write until today. During a quiet moment, I knew that the words had arrived. It was almost as if they’d waited until this very moment. The words knew that I was too busy to pen them and had waited. They’d waited somewhere in the misty world where words wait for authors. It’s a space that exists somehwere beyond where I will ever know. Nevertheless, this space exists and it holds onto words until the right moment.
The words arrived at the very moment when I became available to receive them. The words somehow knew that my busyness had come to a temporary halt, and they came. It’s almost as if they asked, “Would you like two more chapters now?”
The two chapters for the e-book SD: HTLTLYL, an e-book about which I’d had zero time to think about, came as a natural progression to where I’d left off. I did not have to remember or figure out anything, the words just came and made perfect sense.
Like a computer program
If, as authors, we make ourselves available, the words we’ve been waiting for will come. I know this to be true because I experienced it. I would describe it as a computer program that is made to generate books, too many to count. Each book is there, waiting in line, waiting for its turn to emerge from the “waiting room.” The words, paragraphs and chapters are ready, just waiting for me to record them.
When inspiration strikes
Inspiration knows when to come. It comes when there’s an opening; when you, the author, have a free moment. That’s when it comes. Your job is to “listen” and write down the words.
This is how to write when you have zero time.
“Painted Mountain II” Photographer: Luba Rascheff
After writing for so many years, it becomes hard to stop.
So, continuing with this addictive habit that I can’t seem to give up, I just finished seven, short chapters for SD: HTLTLYL (abbreviated). I don’t think that it will take me very long to finish this e-book since I’m feeling quite inspired. It will, by the way, be published under my real name.
What I don’t say in the introduction is that the title was inspired from a chapter in one of my pseudonymous works. It was a particular something, a je ne sais quoi that, apparently, made a huge impression on me which, unbeknownst to me, would, in and of itself, turn into an entire e-book. I wonder if this ever happened to someone else.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been, and continue to be, inspired when writing this e-book.
I get the feeling that a couple of chapters are ready to be ‘hatched,’—and yes, it seems to be coming in spurts of two chapters at a time which leaves the odd, first chapter which came unhitched—place myself in a comfortable position, and write. I’ve been writing on 8 1/2 ” x 11″ sheets of paper, what is commonly known as regular paper, using a ballpoint pen and later transcribing the content into my laptop and saving on USB flash drives.
A ballpoint pen.
Less is more
To say that the chapters are brief is an understatement. They are, indeed, very brief. And, in all their brevity, pack a punch. This is because, inspiration aside, the more I write the more I come to believe that the lower the word count, the more power is contained in the material.
An image referring to brevity.
I fully recognize that saying this is controversial and goes against the grain. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom that says you have to ‘pack it in’ and do ‘lots of rewrites.’ I completely understand since I used to (prior to 2008) believe and practice this approach. Not any more. Now I know, experientially, that it’s not a matter of writing and re-writing, but of being inspired and keeping it short. Please understand that editing is a given and can be practiced ad infinitum toward the perfection of a work.
I’ve heard of an author who writes one book every ten years. She makes sure that every word is correct and that all of her ideas are perfectly expressed. This is in fact rare, though, because most authors produce one book per year and most publishers expect this to be the case. Prolific authors who can’t ‘kick the habit,’ produce more than one title per year. Publishers, this the cue for you to rub your hands now.
If you think about it, everything in our modern lives involves reduction and efficiency. Cars are becoming smaller, houses more ergonomic, Tesla electric cars are replacing gas guzzlers, condos are being preferred over houses, electronic communications are replacing handwritten forms of expression and the post office as we know it may soon disappear (never mind home delivery). Written communications are becoming shorter and today’s winners are those who can tell ‘sticky’ stories in a nutshell.
An image of modern life.
On Twitter, we microblog. We are given 140 characters (I should say ‘were given’ because of a change in how URLs are counted. Click here for details.)
On Pinterest, we pin images to boards with, hopefully, the briefest of cutlines, that speak volumes. It’s just that people don’t have the patience or the time for more. But if, as they say, an image is worth a thousand words then, ironically, this is the platform on which we are expressing more than anyone can ever imagine.
What about blog posts? They are regular novels these days! If reading a 140-character tweet is taxing, then reading a 400 to 600-word blog post may put us over the edge.
I am, of course, being facetious. Rest assured that in spite of what everybody says, people still read books that contain between eighty and a hundred thousand words—the expected length of a novel.
I finished a short book, 101GNOA (abbreviated), and am working on 101GNOA, 2. I find that when I have a book in ready format (for Amazon, Kindle, for example), it’s very easy to expand upon what has already been written. You’ll be hearing more about these two, little power-punching books in about five months from now or so once they clear copyright.
Although some may disagree, for me personally, inspiration is the key to good writing. Without inspiration, I don’t believe that I would be able to offer readers memorable material.
There is a certain humanity to Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth that has stayed with me over the years. I can’t say the same for the multitude of novels I’ve read, some written by well-known authors. This speaks volumes about an inexplicable quality that has so much more to do with the soul than an ability to mechanistically assemble carefully crafted sentences like car parts in a factory.
What is it, therefore, that makes one story—or parts thereof—stick to one’s memory and others slip away into oblivion?
Research and critical thinking
Combined with inspiration is research and critical thinking. When inspiration comes—and count your blessings when it does—you’ll need to structure it in such a way as to make sense. There must be cohesion and it must fit inside a larger context. In other words, it’s got to make sense; and I’m not just talking about the plot, names of characters, event sequence, color cordination, etc. I’m referring to meaning that goes beyond syntax, grammar, spelling, plot, paragraph formation, suspense and conclusion.
When I write and feel inspired, there is a ‘flow’ that starts which can be likened to a flowing stream of water. Momentum builds up and content ‘pours’ out of me. This is the kind of inspiration that writers should aspire for. Why? Why should we be inspired at all? I believe that writers for whom it is the case should stop struggling in order to express themselves.
The big secret is that writing can and should be a lot easier than it’s made out to be, provided you’re inspired.
Working versus struggling
To say that one must struggle in order to produce memorable content is a myth.
Doing research for, say, a historical novel—I’ve done this and can speak to it—constitutes work but doesn’t represent a struggle. Struggling is when we must exert effort in order to say something.
Uplifting oneself toward inspiration
To be inspired one has to seek inspiration or, at the very least, be open to receive it. When inspiration ‘knocks’ at the door, it’s up to you to open it.
Inspiration will come, but it won’t come all the time. That’s because it isn’t humanly possible to be inspired at all times. It is, however, within the realm of possibility to be inspired some of the time.
Whatever its frequency, inspiration is the source of memorable content that makes an impact and changes lives.
May you be inspired!
There’s a famous author whose name I can’t recall. Prior to attaining fame, he holed himself up in an attic with the intention of writing the ultimate novel. He sat in his attic room, at his desk, for one month staring at a blank sheet of paper unable to write anything at all. He couldn’t pen a single word.
The young man left the attic room and started traveling. He had experiences that moved and changed him. It was only then that he was able to write the novel he had tried to start prematurely in vain. He realized that, without life experience, without having felt anything, he had nothing to say. The aspiring author had been a blank slate needing to be filled.
It is only after reading much, living much, analyzing much and practising the art of writing much that we are able to, with few words, say things that are meaningful and have the potential to influence readers. Anything prior to that represents crude attempts at expression that could be likened to a Neanderthal trying to recite Shakespeare.
Frozen in time
Writers possess a unique gift: we can freeze time. Writing enables us to take situations and immortalize them. And, by immortalizing situations, we ultimately immortalize ourselves. We leave behind us a body of works that can be read again and again, works that speak to those lived events that changed us and have the capacity to change others.
At the right time
There’s a time for everything and this includes producing a literary work. As much as people extol motivation, the best creations are produced through inspiration. In the same way that the now-famous author sat at his attic desk staring at a blank sheet of paper for one month lacked inspiration, we who lack inspiration should leave our ‘attic room’ and head for the proverbial trail.
In slow motion
Writing about the events that ‘fill our slates’ and civilize us is a lifelong proposition. It has everything to do with maintaining the determination to put pen to paper and tell our story. And it has nothing to do with lacking inspiration.
You will become immortal through your writings
One of the hardest things for a seasoned author to do is to move from writing fiction to writing non-fiction. I can attest to this because it happened to me in 2008. It is precisely this, however, that will catapult you into immortality. It is the step that authors fear most yet must take in order to move into another sphere.
The late Maria Zaousi, a well-known, Greek author and friend, talked to me about how she moved from writing fiction to fact. She told me that it was one of the most liberating decisions she’d ever made.
Maria was a very generous person. I was living in Athens at the time. In Europe, heating systems start working at fixed dates regardless of what the weather is like. It became very cold very soon and my cousin George’s apartment was freezing. Maria generously gave my cousin and I a large amount of firewood to warm ourselves.
This happened in 2001, but I still remember Maria’s words.
Rest in peace, Maria, and may your works continue to be read.
Image title: “Wealth, power and desired immortality: monuments and tombs (Sphinx and Pyramid).
Image source: http://www.oubey.com
I just read an insightful article called 7 Social Media Trends by Patricia Redsicker which states that blogging is expected to be the “biggest area for increase” for social media marketers. The problem, though, according to the article, is that many companies fear expressing an opinion, something that does not increase traffic to their blog.
Too many businesses are stuck in this ‘grey area’ where they’re so afraid of having an opinion at all because they want to please everyone. As a result their blogs stink and they don’t get any traction.—Epic Content Marketing, (p. 62).
Having said that, I decided to tell you what I think about deep thinking.
The fast pace at which we’re moving today; the fact that hours seem to go by like seconds; and the constantly changing social media environment saturated with content to which we are constantly subject make it difficult if not impossible to do deep thinking.
In past centuries, people had time to leisurely consider what they read and were able to both comprehend and analyze a text, book or article. People used pen and paper to express themselves and letters sometimes took months to reach their destination. Today, it’s expected that we zoom through life and manage our social media accounts like a juggler juggling 5 or 7 balls and produce quality content, too. I’m afraid that this kind of pace and speed cannot produce quality. It will, instead, produce quickly-thought-out, shallow output that will soon be forgotten.
But, Luba, how can I make time for deep thinking?
I understand that designating time to think deeply about what you’re exposed to can be challenging. Consider, though, what you’ll lose if you don’t. You won’t be able to:
- Understand the root of the matter
- Know where things are headed
- Discern whether what’s being promoted is temporary or lasting
- Understand trends, marketing or other
- Sift between what is trivial and what is meaningful
- Write a compelling story
- Make a lasting impression
- Enhance your brand and,
- Make people remember you.
Purposefully take time out to think things through
If you set a time aside each day to consider either what you read or what you write, this mental activity—deep thinking—will help you put things in perspective and bring much clarity.
It’s not about randomly reading texts and regurgitating. It’s about reading select posts, e-books, books and articles toward which you feel a pull and taking the time to really understand what is being said.
People are looking for substance
I secretly suspect that, in the sea of trivia in which we swim, people are actually looking for meaning. They are, I believe, tired of the same old same old and hunger for tangible realities that will enhance their lives.
Doing deep thinking will help us both understand content and create original content which offers just that.
Image title: “Le Penseur” by Rodin.
Article Source: 7 Social Media Trends for Marketers: New Research by Patricia Redsicker.