Well, it’s been pretty crazy here in the Seattle area the past couple of weeks. Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse, has rendered many of us prisoners in our own homes. I’m beginning to wonder if the kids will ever go back to school.
But, just like in every situation, the positives stare you in the face if you are willing to look. It’s a great excuse to snuggle in with your coffee or hot chocolate (both of which have been copiously consumed here lately) in front of the fireplace, and write to your heart’s content.
This weekend’s collection is a nice variety of adjectives, which are usually used to describe nouns.
Adjectives kind of have a bad rap. Author Stephen King said the road to hell is paved with adjectives, and many writers overuse them in an effort to make their writing flowery or dramatic. It depends on how and where they’re used, but it’s important to be watchful of your usage of these descriptors.
Ineffable can mean indescribable or unspeakable. It comes from the Latin words for not and capable of being expressed. I’ve seen it used to describe things of greatness or beauty (the ineffable beauty of mountains) or something unspeakable (an ineffable disgust at his words).
Tenebrous is a synonym for dark, murky, obscure or causing gloom. According to Merriam-Webster, it comes from the Latin noun, tenebrae, meaning darkness. Use it to describe a foggy grove, or a moonless night, or a haunted house perhaps.
While Arcadian literally refers to the Greek region of Arcadia, its definition of simplicity and untroubled by worry or fear comes from the simple and easygoing way of life of the ancient Arcadians.
Ephemeral is a synonym for fleeting, short-lived or brief. An example is: footprints in the sand are ephemeral. And I just think it’s a beautiful-sounding word.
Antiquated is also a cool-sounding word. It means old-fashioned or outdated. Examples include antiquated opinions about the roles of the genders in society; or the antiquated pluming system in the old house.
Are you familiar with these words? Have you used them in your writing?
For those of you surrounded by an abundance of snow this weekend, enjoy the hunkering down. For everyone else, have a great writing weekend!
What are your favorite words? Let me know in the comments.
So, you want to write and share it with the world, right? You’ve set up your blog or your account at Medium.com. Now what?
I mean, after all, sharing your writing with an unfamiliar audience is kinda like stepping up on that stage while trying not to trip over the hem of your dress and giving the all-important speech while your confidence slowly ebbs away. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all…
No worries. I’ve been there. Heck, I am there. Every time I write something and hover that little arrow over the publish button, my introversion rears it’s feathery, azure-eyed head, and I tremble into a wobbly ball of anxiety.
But there are some methods introverts can use to overcome the obstacles of sharing your writing. You just need to find a few things first.
So let’s go on a scavenger hunt. As introverts, we’ll look for, and find, three things that will help us write our very best.
Find Your Voice
As a beginning writer, you will find it difficult to find your voice at first. You may try out different voices as you struggle to find the words and style that reflect YOU. Maybe you’ll try imitate your favorite author or blogger. You might get so worked up on finding just the right words or phrasing, that you’ll be in editing mode forever.
That’s OK. At first. That’s why you practice. And practice some more. And even more. As you continue your practice, you and your voice will get to know and become more familiar with each other.
It’ll be like a first date, where you’re not sure you want to spend more time with the person, but hey, it was pretty good, so maybe we’ll try it out again. The next time, you become a little more comfortable with each other, more relaxed. Then the time after that, it will become yet a little easier; you continue to become more comfortable, and eventually the words and phrases flow easily.
Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul. -Meg Rosoff
I find it helpful to ignore most of the advice from the “experts.” Yes, grammar, vocabulary and syntax is important, but sometimes rules are made to be broken. For the most part, I find the best practice is to write how you speak. Let your personality shine through. Don’t try to sound like someone else, even your favorite author.
Are you a bubbly type? Or a more serious personality? Writing like you speak will make you more genuine in your readers’ eyes.
On a related note, do you publicly share your initial attempts at writing? I think it’s a good idea to do so, and even encourage it. The reason: you may never start otherwise. If your goal is to share your writing with others, if you think your writing isn’t good enough, not quite yet, you’ll procrastinate until not quite yet becomes never. As long as you’re publishing online, the Edit button will always be there for you.
You may think that everything’s been done and said before, that there are no new ideas.
The good news is no one’s heard your version yet.
As an introvert, where can you collect your ideas? Many suggestions stem from being out and about in the world, surrounded by other people, folks you pass on the street, overhear in the coffee shops, etc.
As an introvert myself, I usually actively try to avoid those places. Situations like those can cause mental drainage at the best, and anxiety at the worst. As an introvert, you probably spend much of your time in your own home, alone or surrounded by your family.
Additionally, you’re not likely to be able to focus on obtaining writing ideas and collecting notes if you keep checking your watch for the time you get to go home and recharge.
So, where can you find great writing ideas? There are plenty of sources, but I suggest ignoring the advice to write what you know.
Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. -Nikki Giovanni
The most important source of writing ideas for introverts is the imagination. As a general rule, we’re a creative bunch. So, sit back, relax, and pull from the center of your mind secrets, desires and motivations with which you can use to create a character or construct a blog post.
Other sources of inspiration include your family and your close (small) circle of friends. Perhaps your neighborhood will provide ideas. Look out the window. What do you see? Your neighbors? Write a soap opera (changing the names to protect the innocent of course). Woods, deer and birds (in my case)? Let some poetry materialize. Is your view of a bustling busy skyline? Try to creatively describe the shapes, colors, angles and other things you see. These ideas may or may not turn into masterpieces, but they will be useful as some helpful practice.
Fear. This may be the single most debilitating obstacle for an introvert who wants to share his or her writing.
Fear keeps us stuck in a quagmire, right where we’re at, right now. It keep us from moving forward.
And guess what? Most folks stay in this very spot.
What if you fail? Ray Bradbury once said you fail only if you stop writing. And he’s right, you know. As long as you persevere and keep on practicing your craft, you’re not failing. Seems pretty easy right? All you need to do is KEEP WRITING.
But, but, but…what if I offend someone?
I’m going to tell you right now: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
I promise if you publicly share your writing, you WILL offend someone, somewhere, sometime.
But, who cares? I understand though, because I still struggle with this. Others will have differing opinions and views, but it doesn’t mean you (or they) are wrong. It’s OK, and even desirable, to sometimes be forced to look at things in a different way.
And about hateful comments from strangers? They don’t mean a thing. The support and love you receive from your longtime and loyal readers, friends and family: that’s the important stuff. Learn to ignore the haters. They’re not worth your time.
Then there’s that pesky fear of not being good enough.
Whoa, stop right there. This comes from comparing yourself to others. Quit it right now. Every single writer in the history of the world started at the beginning. Some folks are far along in their writing journey, while you may be just beginning. In a year, or five, you’ll be farther along in your journey than someone will be just starting out.
Think about it; when you’re writer extraordinaire in a few years or after a lifetime, you may be encouraging the next newbie.
Maybe you’re afraid of actually succeeding?
Why? Because it’s comfortable here. Change, even positive change, is scary.
It’s hard to let go of the grip on comfort, on familiarity. But if you want to move forward, to grow, to become inspired, you’re gonna have to let go. Don’t be afraid.
As in introvert, once you find your voice, ideas, and courage, the rest is a piece of cake. You’ll encounter plenty of stumbling blocks along the way, but you’ll have no problem navigating them. You’ll be well on your way to becoming the best writer you can be.
It’s a lifelong journey, but one that is well worth it.
Well, the first month of the year is already gone. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Not so great? Me neither. In fact, I didn’t even make any. But I never make New Year’s resolutions.
I prefer New Day’s resolutions.
New Day’s resolutions consist of tasks, actions, activities and goals that I expect to achieve just for today. If I can make it through this new day succeeding at the goals that I have planned for myself, I consider it a win.
Then I’ll do it again tomorrow.
Some of my New Day’s resolutions are the same every day: Drinking a glass of water before having my coffee. Taking a walk. Reading for at least an hour. Feeding the sourdough starter. Making the bed.
These are arguably minor daily goals, and I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t manage them. But that’s the beauty of New Day’s resolutions. You have another chance tomorrow.
New Day’s resolutions can and should also include more important or bigger goals as well. They may not look exactly like the previous ones, but they are those activities that move you toward a larger goal: Doing something for your new business. Writing a page of your book. Plan these ahead of time.
For example, each night before bed, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary writes three tasks on a sticky-note that he says he must accomplish the next morning before anyone else wakes up. This seemingly insignificant action of writing his plans down can greatly increase productivity.
Author and psychologist Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, describes a hierarchy of goals. The top-level goal is achieved by accomplishing mid- and low-level goals; they’re a means to an end so to speak.
Perhaps your top-level goal is to start a small business. Your mid-level goals would include writing a business plan, registering your business with the government and IRS, purchasing insurance, setting up financial accounts and creating a website. Minor goals and tasks can then be planned to accomplish those mid-level goals. Seemingly trivial tasks like making the bed each day can contribute to your top level goal because it increases your productivity and motivation.
So, each night before bed, write down three assignments that you will accomplish the following day that will move you toward that top level goal of starting the business.
If low- and mid-level goals aren’t aiming you toward your top-level goal, it may be time to re-evaluate them.
I find it helpful to use a diagram of a hierarchy of goals to see which goals are supporting other goals. It also makes it easier to see those goals that may not be contributing to your top-level one.
Maybe your top-level goal is to start a successful blog. Your mid-level goals could include writing 1000 words on one day, and editing and publishing those words the following day. Rinse and repeat.
Low-level goals to support those mid-level ones could include the ones I previously mentioned in addition to perhaps waking at an earlier hour or consuming a healthier diet.
Can you have more than one top-level goal? Yes, but don’t spread yourself too thin. A top-level goal in your professional life and one for your personal/family life are usually sufficient.
Can your top-level goal change? Of course. Finding one’s passion can take a lifetime and passions and interests change over time. But many folks give up too easily, too soon. The most successful people, as described in Grit, are those that can sustain their passion over a long period of time.
I find it much easier to stick with New Day’s resolutions than New Year’s resolutions. Many people give up after breaking the New Year’s ones. They feel guilty and feel like it’s not worth it to start again.
But by creating goals for each day, you can create a new sense of accomplishment each day. Will you screw up? Of course, we all do. But each day is a new opportunity to get back on the wagon.
I highly recommend Kevin O’Leary’s productivity trick and Angela Duckworth’s goal hierarchy chart. Try them out and watch your productivity skyrocket.
All writers write junk at some point. Those of us who are beginners will probably write more crap than the more seasoned writers. Obviously, because practice makes progress. (Not perfection.)
If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. -Margaret Atwood
But what about sharing our less-than-stellar pieces of prose or poetry? Do we keep it to ourselves, in a private little virtual folder on our laptop or inside a locked journal? Or do we share with a select few, some trusted friends and family?
Or, do we throw caution to the wind, and — after we feel we’ve done our best — go ahead and publish what we may feel is not our top work?
While there are pros and cons to exposing our perceived sub-standard creations, I think that, especially as beginners, it’s important to share our crappy writing because of the following reasons:
It will help you ditch the fear.
The first time I hit the publish button both here and on my blog, my body physically reacted. My heart raced, hives-like itching covered my body, and I became light-headed and dizzy. You would have thought my poor introverted self was getting ready to give a public speech to a crowd of thousands of people.
And I suppose in a way, I was. (But of course, just starting out, my audience was tremendously smaller.) It’s terrifying putting your creative self out there for the world to judge and criticize.
I hit the Publish. Guess what happened then? Nothing. No one laughed at my writing (to my face anyway). I didn’t have a mental breakdown. And the world kept spinning on its axis.
So I wrote again. And I hit Publish again. And I had the same symptoms, but to a lesser degree this time. And each following time, the fear lessened, and now I’m pretty good about not passing out cold.
It will build your confidence.
When you realize the world isn’t going to explode every time you share your writing, you become a little more confident that it will stay whole the next time you do it too.
The more you write, whether on Medium, your blog, or other public platform, the more people will see your work. And the more views you get, the more feedback you’ll receive. Most of it will be positive feedback. (Ignore the haters.) You can take that positive feedback and use it to build your confidence. As your confidence increases, the more you’ll be able to write and the more comfortable you’ll become in sharing more of your writing. A pretty nice cycle, right?
You’ll figure out what works (and what doesn’t).
This may be the most important reason. If you’re writing for an audience, you’ll quickly figure out what topics appeal to your readers. Write more about those. You’ll also find out which topics your readers couldn’t care less about. Write about those less.
(If you’re writing for yourself though, write about whatever you want. You are perfectly allowed publicly share and publish pieces that you’re creating for yourself if you choose.)
Furthermore, it can help you find and develop your writing voice. When I first started writing, it was in a way that didn’t really reflect the way I thought and spoke. And it felt forced. I thought it sounded good, but my readers could tell that it wasn’t me.
You’ll figure out your voice the more you write. You’ll realize it doesn’t work to force it. I’ve found that it’s generally better to write how you speak, then go back during editing and correct spelling and grammar errors.
Of course, there are valid arguments against publicly sharing our crap writing. You’ll screw some stuff up. We all do it.
And once your writing is out there, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will stay out there. But on sites like Medium and a blog, there’s that all-important Edit button. It wouldn’t be there if it were never meant to be used.
And I think the pros of sharing your weaker creations outweigh the cons. Losing the fear of writing, finding your voice, and building your confidence are the best advantages.
Just remember to apply that Edit button as needed.