Sunday, February 18, 2018

What I'm Reading Everyday

Yes... another acronym: WIRE.

But it works for me. So.... I've learned a lot the last few days. Here's what I've been reading this week:

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All The Facts, by Annie Duke.

Listen Up Or Lose Out: How To Avoid Miscommunication, Improve Relationships, and Get More Done Faster, by Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton.

Thinking In Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All The Facts, by Annie Duke.

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, by Alex Hutchinson.

Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World, by Melissa A. Schilling.

These were among the books that Success Magazine recommended as Must-Reads for February. So... I'm reading them.

In case you missed it:

What You Must Do Every Day To Find Stories To Write About. If you want to be a writer, this is a must. Very basic advice, but something we don't really do... if we're being honest.

Trying to keep going even when your body doesn't.

An observation exercise on Valentine's Day. What do you see as you go about your day?

Friday, February 16, 2018

What You Must Do Every Day To Find Stories To Write About?

It starts with one word: Observe.

A simple Google definition: notice or perceive something and register it as being significant.

The hard parts are at the beginning and at the end. We must first notice. Then, we must perceive what we notice as significant.

I'm sorry to say that most of us plow through life without noticing or perceiving. I might include would-be writers in that category. But... you are different if you choose to be. It's your choice.

You think you can write? You think you have a short story, poem, novel in you? Maybe. What's stopping you? There are many answers to that question. I will only address two in this post: writing a short story or novel.

Truly.... the barriers to writing either could be a lack of knowledge of grammar, education, experience, or the conventions of fiction, etc., etc.

I'm here to tell you... You can bone up on all that. But... if you want to be a writer, you must first own one skill first. I believe it is the most important skill to master as a writer - granted you have the ability to create sentences. That skill is observation.

A little background here. I studied at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. It is one of the hardest journalism programs to get into. I not only made it as a student there, but I returned as a professor.

Something I have never forgotten, wisdom that has helped me, as a journalist and as a writer of fiction, to this day is this: Observe everything you encounter with the eyes of a child.

The question for you? Why are the eyes of a child more perceptive than those of an adult?
Answer... everything is new to a child. Adults are jaded. Been there. Done that. Nothing new to see here.

Yet... as writers, we must fight that compulsion to dismiss the "ordinary."

Case in point... I was driving to work, as usual, the other day. I take the same route. It requires no real thought to drive out of my apartment complex... onto the road... then to the highways that eventually lead me to my destination.

But.... while I was stuck in traffic the other day, I noticed something. I was observing. I saw something on Valentine's Day that I thought was interesting. Here is my observation of that moment. Is it something? Or nothing? It is something?  As a writer, you can make it something. I say it's something. It hones your skill to pull writing exercises out of random events in life.

Go find your own moments. Let me know what you find. I'd love to hear them.

In case you missed it:

Trying to keep going even when your body doesn't.

An observation exercise on Valentine's Day. What do you see as you go about your day?

Down Day: Dealing With Your Physical Limitations

Anyone out there have physical limitations? Of course.

Mine are from injuries. I hurt my back in the Army. It got worse later as a college student working for UPS. I hurt it again.

Since then, my back is fragile. Today, it decided to be really fragile. It doesn't take much. One wrong move and something happens. It's my lower back. Don't know if something in my spine pinches a nerve or what. But, the subsequent radiating pain renders me immobile usually for a few days.

Even typing hurts. I set a goal for this week to write a blog post every day. I'm in the last hour of this day... trying to keep that goal. I couldn't type earlier. Just needed to stay immobile. Sheer determination and a touch of vodka have enabled me to get out of bed and sit at my computer.

I've read a lot today. That's about the only activity that doesn't hurt. I'm in five different books. Inspiring. I'll share more later.

I've decided I'll be adding a couple of themed posts to my blog. I love acronyms. So, I'm using them. I will be writing WILD and MOOD posts. What do those acronyms mean?

OK... it wasn't perfect... but, here it is:

WILD - What I learned (2)Day
MOOD- My observation of (the) day.

I know... maybe, it's weird... But, that's my brain. My Valentine's Day observation would be a MOOD feature, for example.

Now... Back to bed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

An Observation on Valentine's Day: A Lonely Balloon

Driving on the highway towards Dallas this morning I noticed something in the gray sky above: a lonely heart-shaped balloon floating away.

Its trajectory appeared aimless through the gloomy void. I squinted. I focused. But, I could not discern its color. Not red. Not black. Not white. As it wandered higher, farther away, I wondered.
It blended with the dull grayness. Was that its sole intention now?

What had set this love token on its journey to oblivion? And what of the hand that once held it? Stripped apart by what?

How fleeting was the sentiment that it was destined to fade so early on this Valentine’s morning. Like all earthly things, its fate preordained to perish into nothingness.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Quote For The Day: Sweat

In keeping with the theme of my "Getting Things Done" post, here's this bit of inspiration from The Writer's Little Instruction Book: 385 Secrets for Writing Well & Getting Published, by Paul Raymond Martin.

In writing (as in most endeavors) sweat rules over inspiration. 

Do the work. Just do it. Don't wait for inspiration.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How To Get Things Done Now In 2018

Henry Ford once said you can't build a reputation on what you're going to do.

The founder of the Ford Motor Company definitely built a reputation as a captain of industry by doing. But most of us don't do what we should.

Doing: the act of performing or executing: action - Merriam Webster

Doing... executing... deliberate action that leads you closer to your goal. That is how to get things done. What do I do? Not what I should. I sleep. I procrastinate. Do you? Be honest... What we should do is venture forward.

Now... Daily... every hour... minute... second. Period.

I'm learning that again and again and again throughout each day. It is my top goal for 2018.

For me that means meeting my writing goals, my entrepreneurial goals, etc. Over the first month of January, I set some "things" in motion to get things done. One of my first financial goals was to make an average of $50 a day in my spare time - on side hustles.

For me to say I achieved that goal, I had to make an average of $50 a day for seven straight days. Last night, I reached my goal. Over the last seven days, I have made about $57 a day.

How did I do it? By doing... by executing... by deliberate action. It's a simple solution, but hard to do. It's really a mental exercise: you versus yourself inside your head.

"I should get up off the couch and get to work," you think to yourself. "OK... one more hour of Netflix, then I'll get up."

... Three hours later...

"It's almost midnight," you say. "It's too late now. I'll do it tomorrow."

... Three days later...

"I'll do it next week for sure."

Any of that sound familiar? That's me sabotaging my own efforts. It's me when I'm not doing... not executing... not taking deliberate action. Set a goal. Then fight yourself every day to do it. Execute every day. Take action every day.

Like Yoda from Star Wars said to young Luke Skywalker: "No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try."

Trying is lying.

What have you done to meet your goals? What inspires you? Please share with me. We are in this together.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Boo. Didn't Make My Goal

Pack it up...

Didn't make $800 in Eight days. Well... I'm packing up my apartment... About to post everything I can on E-bay... 

My car is going to be repossessed... Life was good....

OK... it's not that dire... 

Yes... I didn't make the $800... but... I managed. 

It's amazing how much we can accomplish when our back's to the wall.

It's on... we are about to kick it into another gear...

What I'm Reading Everyday

Yes... another acronym: WIRE. But it works for me. So.... I've learned a lot the last few days. Here's what I've been reading ...