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The Guilty, Crazy Secret That Helps Me Write

When I first received my MEDIUM newsletter and saw this

“I can’t get it out of my head. I just keep singing it over and over. It just comes out. I have no control over it. I’m singing it on elevators, buses. I sing it in front of clients. It’s taking over my life

I thought it was going to be about ‘earworms’. Ear worms are  those songs that no matter how much you may not like them, or just sick of them get stuck in your head and you just hear them over and over sometimes just that annoying chorus. (and not to get off topic but I Usually find the trick is to actually listen to the song then I’m good after and yes even if you don’t like it)

but when I saw the ‘Help me write’ part, I couldn’t figure out what that secret could be. After reading

The Guilty, Crazy Secret That Helps Me Write

I’d say this is a good way to GIVE yourself an earworm. It wouldn’t matter what song even one I liked I wouldn’t get any writing done, and I really do not wish  to ruin what music I still listen to by doing this.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2018 in Writing

 

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How To Digest Books Above Your “Level” And Increase Your Intelligence

 I came across the following article on MEDIUM, sadly I think the article was taken down, as when I opened the link, it said the author had taken it down… (Luckily I still had it in my mailbox.)  II take absolutely NO CREDIT for myself I did not write this, but I DID enjoy the article and wanted to share it with you.

How To Digest Books Above Your “Level” And Increase Your Intelligence

To do great things, you have to read to lead.

Go to the profile of Ryan Holiday

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The best advice I’ve ever got about reading came from a secretive movie producer and talent manager who’d sold more than 100 million albums and done more than $1B in box office returns. He said to me one day, “Ryan, it’s not enough that you read a lot. To do great things, you have to read to lead.

What he meant was that in an age where almost nobody reads, you can be forgiven for thinking that the simple act of picking up a book is revolutionary. It may be, but it’s not enough. Reading to lead means pushing yourself–reading books “above your level.”

In short, you know the books where the words blur together and you can’t understand what’s happening? Those are the books a leader needs to read. Reading to lead or learn requires that you treat your brain like the muscle that it is–lifting the subjects with the most tension and weight.

For me, that means pushing ahead into subjects you’re not familiar with and wresting with them until you can–shying away from the “easy read.” It means reading Feynman over Friedman, biographies over business books, and the classics over the contemporary.

It worked wonders for me: at 19, I was a Hollywood executive, I was at 21 I was the director of marketing for a publicly traded company, and at 24 I’d worked on 5 bestselling books and sold my own to the biggest publisher in the world. I may have been a college drop out but I have had the best teachers in the world: tough books.

My apartment is filled with such books that on paper, I never should have been able to understand. It wasn’t easy to crack them, but with the secrets below I was able to. And the process starts before you even crack the spine of a new book.

Before the first page…

Break out of the School Mindset
The way you learn to read in the classroom is corrupted by the necessity of testing. Tests often have very little to do with proving that you know or care about the material but more about proving that you spent the time reading it. The easiest way to do this is picking obscure things from the text and quizzing you on them: “Name this passage” “What were the main characters in Chapter 4?” We carry these habits with us. Remember: now you’re reading for you.

Let’s say you’re reading the History of the Peloponnesian War. That there was once a conflict between Corinth and Corcyra is not really worth remembering, even though the proxy fight kicked off the war between Athens and Sparta.

(To write this, I had to look the names up myself, I only recalled that they started with a C)

What you should latch onto is that as the two fought for allied support from Athens, one took the haughty “you owe us a favor” route and the other alluded to all the benefits that would come from aiding them. Guess who won? Place. Names. Dates. These are unimportant. The lessons matter.

From Seneca:

We haven’t time to spare to hear whether it was between Italy and Sicily that he ran into a storm or somewhere outside the world we know–when every day we’re running into our own storms, spiritual storms, and driven by vice into all the troubles that Ulysses ever knew.

Forget everything but that message and how to apply it to your life.

Ruin the Ending
When I start a book, I almost always go straight to Wikipedia (or Amazon or a friend) and ruin the ending. Who cares? Your aim as a reader is to understand WHY something happened, the what is secondary.

You ought to ruin the ending–or find out the basic assertions of the book–because it frees you up to focus on your two most important tasks:

  1. What does it mean?
  2. Do you agree with it?

The first 50 pages of the book shouldn’t be a discovery process for you; you shouldn’t be wasting your time figuring out what the author is trying to say with the book.

Instead, your energy needs to be spent on figuring out if he’s right and how you can benefit from it. Plus if you already know what happens, you can identify all the foreshadowing and the clues the first read through.

Read the Reviews
Find out from the people who have already read it, what they felt was important. From Amazon to the New York Times, read the reviews so you can deduce the cultural significance of the work–and from what it meant to others. Also by being warned of the major themes you can anticipate them coming and then actually appreciate them as they unfold.

Tip: if you agree with their assessment of the work, go ahead and steal it once you’ve finished. You can’t copyright an opinion–this isn’t school, this is life.

The book itself…

Read the Intro/Prologe/Notes/Forward
I know, I know. It infuriates me too when what looks like a 200 page book turns out to have 80 pages of translator’s introduction, but that stuff is important.

Every time I have skipped through it, I’ve had to go back and start over. Read the intro, read all the stuff that comes before the book–even read the editors notes at the bottom of the pages. This sets the stage and helps boost your knowledge going into the book.

Remember: you need every advantage you can get to read a book above your level. Don’t skip stuff intended to add context and color.

Look It Up
If you’re reading to lead, you’re going to come across concepts or words you’re not familiar with. Don’t pretend like you understand, look it up. I like to use Definr or I use my phone to look stuff up on Wikipedia. With Military History, a sense of the battlefield is often necessary. Wikipedia is a great place to grab maps and to help understand the terrain.

I was once trying to read some books on the Civil War and got stuck. 10 hours of Ken Burn’s documentaries later, the books were easy to breeze through (see, looking stuff up can be as easy as watching TV) That being said, don’t get bogged down with the names of the cities or the spelling of names, you’re looking to grasp the meta-lesson: the conclusions.

Mark Passages
I love Post-It Flags. I mark every passage that interests me, that makes me think, that is important to the book. When I don’t have them, I just fold the bottom corner of the page. (I actually folded the corner of every page of Heraclitus’ Fragments). If there is something I need to look up, I fold the top corner of the page and return to it later.

I carry a pen with me and write down whatever thoughts / feelings / connections I may have with a passage.

It’s much better to do it in the moment than to risk losing the contemporaneous inspiration. Don’t be afraid to tear the book up with tags and notations–books are a cheap. Plus you’ll get more for your money this way.

After you finish…

Go Back Through
I have the same schedule with every book I read. After a mandatory 1–2 week waiting period after finishing, I go back through the book with a stack of 4×6 index cards. One these cards, I write out–by hand–all the passages I have noted as being important.

It might seem strange but it’s an old tactic used by everyone from Tobias Wolff to Montaigne to Raymond Chandler. (Who once said: “When you have to use your energy to put those words down, you are more apt to make them count.”) Each one of these cards is then assigned a theme and filed in my index card box.

The result of 4–5 years of doing this? Thousands of cards in dozens of themes–from Love to Education to Jokes to Musings on Death. I return to these pieces of wisdom when I am writing, when I need help or when I am trying to solve a business problem. It has been an immense resource.

Read One Book from Every Bibliography
This is a little rule I try to stick with. In every book I read, I try to find my next one in its footnotes or bibliography. This is how you build a knowledge base in a subject–it’s how you trace a subject back to its core.

Just keep a running list through Amazon’s Wish List service (here is mine). Last month I read a book on Evolutionary Psychology and discovered that I’d read almost 80% of its sources because I’d been pulled down the rabbit hole of a predecessor.

Apply and Use
You highlight the passages for a reason. Why type the quotes if you aren’t going to memorize and use them?

Drop them in conversation. Allude to them in papers, in emails, in letters and in your daily life.

How else do you expect to absorb them?

The more fulfilling an outlet you find for the fruit of your database, the more motivated you will be to fill it. Try adding a line to a report you’re doing, find solace in them during difficult times or add them to Wikipedia pages. Do something.

I give you Seneca again:

My advice is really this: what we hear the philosophers saying and what we find in their writings should be applied in our pursuit of the happy life. We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application–not far far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech–and learn them so well that words become works.

Remember: we read to lead for moral and practical lessons. The point is to take what we’ve read and turn the words, as Seneca says, into works.

Conclusion: It’s on You

Of course, none of this is easy. People always ask me if the books I carry around are for school because they’re full of notes, flags and folded pages–why would anyone work so hard on something they were doing on their own? Because I enjoy it, because it’s the only thing that separates me from ignorance.

These are the techniques have allowed me to leap years ahead of my peers. It’s how you strike out on your own and build strength instead of letting some personal trainer dictate what you can and can’t be lifting.

It’s also expensive, I’ve purchased thousands of books and invested hours upon hours of time learning them. But how expensive is going back for an MBA? Or attending TED? I think there is more wisdom in the timeless books of the last 5,000 years than a conference or two–if you do it right and push yourself.

So try it: Do your research, read diligently without getting bogged down in details, and then work to connect, apply and use. It’s your job as a leader. And I think you’ll find that you’re able to read above your supposed “level” and that people will follow your example. If you put in the work, books, as the great writer and voracious reader Petrarch once said, will pay you back:

“Books give delight to the very marrow of one’s bones. They speak to us, consult with us and join with us in a living and intense intimacy.”

Enjoy the journey.

Like to Read?

I’ve created a list of 15 books you’ve never heard of that will alter your worldview and help you excel at your career.

Get the secret book list here!


This originally appeared on Thought Catalog.

 

This Simple NoteTaking Method Will Help You Read More (and remember what you’ve read) Honestly not exactly

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Writing

 

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Creative inspiration

So with it being back to school time I thought I’d try to spark some creativity if not for now, then to give you some ideas for those reports, class and homework.
One of the blogs I follow asked the question How do we find our creative inspiration when you are stuck
it sort of depends on what I want to do as I have a variety of creative outlets (too many and YES there can be too many.. Mama’s make sure your kids only have 1-2 hobby/interests!)
I write poems but the last few I wrote are not finished, so I re-read through them to see if I my muse will help me out and get it finished. Also I have a list of ideas be it possible titles for poems, a line etc. So I check through those as well to see if any would work or if it will flip that  ‘write new poem’ switch wherever it is on me.
Also I make jewelry the craft kind you buy the bits for at Joann’s Michael’s and Hobby Lobby but sometimes some things come out where I have to look again and can’t believe I made it!  I can’t draw well so I try to trace/draw out what I made in a journal and I look at that. Also when I get an idea for something I try to put a few of the beads etc I have in the color I’ll be doing it, in one of those mini ziplock bags   Like a set of earrings or  as I recently have been trying to do some book thongs. (I am trying to find the right red colored beads to make vampire themed ones; however, likely won’t be all the same design. I make ‘custom /one of a kinds’ for less.
Then I also have been working on a patchwork (not a quilt or anything in particular but started out as a body pillow cover and I decided I wanted to make a ‘never ending’ one. Summer seems to be my sewing season so I’ve been trying to work on that as well as recently been making some change purses for friends and family as their or part of their holiday gifts.. also earrings, yes fabric earrings.  So everytime I go to walmart I always check to see if there are any interesting ‘fat quarters’ as they are called, I just call them ‘swatches’  as I can usually get a piece out of it for my patchwork as well as one or 2 other projects (if not more) out of it.
I have a large bin of fabric and I think i have 2 underbed boxes with more fabric (eeek!) or old t-shirts to cut out for my patchwork so I really would like to get a lot of stuff (at least project set-ups if not sew right away. Might have to make note of that in my bujo I started setting up for next year.
That’s another thing.. Journal I write any ideas in a journal or in a note on my evernote account… Check it out here
as you can see I try to keep a ‘file’ of friends’ and family as to what size or if have pierced ears etc. as well as a listing of  some ideas for lines/series.
For writers I will tell you an idea or 2… READ!!! I’ve been inspired by a few books (like a line or a paragraph may have inspired a poem out of me)
Check out other journals, sewing, and other creative ideas fixes on Pinterest! You can follow @kymoDragon and check out my boards for stuff there! That’s where I get a lot of my Bullet Journaling ideas as I’m just starting on that.
also you can follow my Blogs
Crafter Crums  which I not only include posts of my own projects when they are finished, but also curate ideas I hope to do or just liked and thought you might enjoy as well.
My personal posts are usually either a photo or video of the project and sometimes a step by step (and if I think of it, a way to improve on how I made the original item.)
but also curate others
and my writing  blog  Miss Musings Writing Essentials which has Help in the menu on a variety of things (you can also hoover to see if there are more pages for that section) as well as search the blog posts
 How do YOU spark creativity?  Please tell us your ideas… Oh one other one I do for writing
I list a bunch of song titles or book titles or words something of that sort (or have someone tell me some) and I write a story or poem from it. Its more like a writing exercise but it does help.

 

 

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3 reasons to read a book now

Have you ever wondered WHY some people read? There are certain things that reading can help you with.

The first thing is Books are usually used for education but they are not just text books or story they are (or can be…even if fiction and fantasy) experience in a single subject or topics in a subject. Think of them like this.

They are the summary of many years of experience.

Reason 1

Its the SUMMER! It’s reading season!

If you are a student now’s the time to read something you want to. (unless of course you get some stupid reading list, then I am so sorry but the faster you get through what you HAVE to, the sooner you could read something you want) heck you can even challenge yourself… read a the ones you have to all at the same time a chapter from say 1-3 of those books a day. Me If I had a questionnaire I would do that as I skimmed through the book.  You can read what you want when you go to the beach or pool, maybe something that you could finish in a day.

If you are a parent now is the time to read something (especially when you don’t normally get to)

I don’t know if any of you are off to stay home with the kid, but even if you can only do it the week or 2 you are on vacation) but while at home even  if you have to read during commercials, while the kid is napping (if they still do that), in the bathroom, while at the pool or beach, before bed (it will help you fall asleep and sleep better) in the bath, or if you wake before anyone else just read in bed just be careful not to make too much noise if reading a print book or even on a device. Also if you are working and take public transportation why not read while on that train or bus or plane!

 

Reasons 2 and 3  and there are many! 

Creativity— *and my favorite reason  I’ve written a few poems inspired by a line, or paragraph in a story, or was inspired by the story itself.  Sometimes the description of something gives me the picture in my head or a poem to write.

Relax— While there are true crime stories,  I find there’s plenty enough of that in real life.. WHY do you want to read stories like that when you can just watch it on the news or basically any night in a Police drama on tv? I always saw Books and movies and TV series to relax  and get away from reality.

Life.–sometimes they can be therapy. I recently finished a book about a character that was obsessive Compulsive.. While I don’t have that I do have anxiety and depression and I was able to relate in parts as the character mentioned things I went through or still feel. So in a sense it was sort of like I had a friend that actually understood me.

Learn– while yes there are text and workbooks there are others that instead of those sort can help you learn and improve yourself. Say buy a language phrasebook and try to learn at least one to 5 words (or phrases)  from it a day. You broaden your vocabulary. There are times I come out with a word and my mother is like where did you learn that word, or I shock myself and end up looking up the word myself  as I don’t remember learning it which means I picked it up from something I read, and am not always clear if its right to use in that moment.

Brain– Yours. write down your thoughts in a journal what you do or need to each day what movies and  ‘TV’ shows you watched  music listened to and  books you read or write your reviews for them it’s nice to look back after a couple of months and even years  to see what was going on. It also works as a record. Don’t want to have one like that Then have a common place book… keep your recipes, favorite quotes and lines and just keep lists (with a grade ‘review’ of the books you read movies and shows you watched and so on. You can do this for restaurants and such. This is what you’d call a brain dump.

Health – frankly I find writing in a journal diary whatever healthy. it helps when you air things out especially more so when you feel like you don’t have someone you can talk to about your problem, or everyone just always seems busy.

This post was inspired by 3 Reasons to read a book now

 
 

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Inkjoy Pens by Papermate

Inkjoy Pens by Papermate

I know nowadays some people just write directly to a computer file. I don’t, no matter what I am writing one of the stories i’m starting or still working on same for poems, letters etc I always use a pen. For me I prefer to use the thick (fat) barrel pens so that my fingers don’t hurt and cramp. This is one I’ve been using well over 10 years!

I was in the market for a new set of color pens, as the last ones I had for one…didn’t write smoothly (I had to press on them and that tends to tire the hand out faster) and  2. the orange was more that brownish orange (rust) color.

So I remembered the Inkjoy commercial,

When I first saw this commercial, I wish I still had the old Spirograph set I had as a kid

I had previously grabbed one of the purple ones that came with the ‘pen’ stylus for phones, tablets etc on it. I liked the way it felt and wrote so I ordered a pack of the retractable Color  pens for writing in my journal, and letters. They’re not fat like my Tandem pen, but they aren’t so thin like the papermate stick ones that my fingers start to hurt. Even though these are an average size pen, they are still comfortable to use. As for what the commercials say, I LOVE these pens! They are my new favorite kind! They write so smooth you would think it was water or air! I even found a mini set of them in a discount store! These are great for anyone for summer roadtrips, days at the beach and vacations. No matter what you do draw, journal, doodle or scrapbook and anything else I may be missing.

and just so you don’t have to deal with my my review, here’s a video one from youtube.

For those of you that want them for the office I looked up a few options for your convenience

36 count Office pack Black *  12 pk Blue*

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Journals, review, Supplies, Writing

 

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Transition words

First we examine what transition words are, the words that push your story forward. Next we examine how they are used. Honestly if you didn’t already noticed, I used two transition words in these sentences! Add information ‘for instance, when you show an example, or “below” you will find a list of these type of words and the categories they fall under.

They keep order, of First and last, but let’s hope we don’t get into a Who’s on 1st discussion.  They compare things and not ‘in the same way’ metaphors  or similes do. Emphasize your point “which in fact”, make you see the big fat period at the end of the argument “like” the old talk to the hand gesture.  So

here’s the list of the words to use to transition print it,laminate it and refer to it if you are stuck

Now how to use them is up to you.

Transition Words

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Creative writing, Lists, Writing

 

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52 Week Writing Challenge

Here’s an idea for us busy bodies who can never seem to get our writing in!

Instead of trying to get so much time in a day, do a little each day for a week. Write short stories, even if its only 1 page front and back, write for 5 minutes, poems whatever you think of. Don’t forget to shut the world out, especially out of mind. Make a character sketch for someone you see during lunch at work, or outside in the park.

the-52-week-writing-challenge

 

 

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