Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

To whom it may concern: Is “whom” outdated?

You won’t be surprised to learn language evolves over time, and we collectively kick unfortunate words to the curb.whom is dead

Or, art thou?

Indeed, some words are on their way to the literary grave. And “whom,” it’s your turn.

In the April 2013 issue of The Atlantic, the article “For Whom the Bell Tolls” caught my eye. I take that back. It was Megan Garber’s subtitle that entranced me: “The inexporable decline of America’s least favorite pronoun.”

While I’m not a fan of unnecessary formality, I felt a little sad to see this word obituary.

She goes on to explain that “whom” has been dying a slow death since 1826. Apparently Time magazine included 3,352 instances of “whom” in the 1930s, and only 902 in the 2000s. Garber insists “technology seems to be speeding up the demise” of the grammatically incorrect.

She’s right. We didn’t sing along with Ghostbusters theme song, “Whom Ya Gonna Call,” nor do we see “Whom to Follow” on Twitter.

Perhaps I have a soft spot for phrases without a future.

Or maybe it’s my defense of four-letter words. In any case, I call for a moment of silence for whom the bell tolls.

What would you like to add to my R.I.P.?

P.S. While we’re talking grave yards, here’s why I dance a little jig every time I go to my local cemetery.

 

9 ways to jumpstart creative thinking (and writing)

9 ways to jumpstart creative thinking (and writing)

March 22, 2013 |  by  |  Wordbliss  |  ,  |  7 Comments

 

Peanut butter and jelly. Lucy and Ricky. Tax season and accountants.

Some things are simply made for each other.

Let’s add “writing and thinking” to this list of inseparables. Sure, you can think without writing (even hold whole conversations in your head), but I guarantee you can’t write (well) without thinking.

In college, a phrase in a lecture seared itself into my memory: “Learning to write is learning to think.” As a full-time word wrangler, I’m fully convinced writing absolutely requires a healthy dose of mental gymnastics! Speaking of which, here are some exercises I find helpful.

9 tips for thinking– and writing – creatively:

  1. Doodle, dude. Perhaps it’s the intersection of right brain meets left, but when I let myself play with a pen, I’m often surprised at where my pen/marker/crayon takes my words.
  2. Cozy up with a respected magazine. I keep a stack of magazines nearby when I’m writing, so I can meander through prose others have written. I can’t tell you how many times a well-crafted phrase in National Geographic popped a new idea into my head.
  3. Hone in on visual details. Consider what stands out in the scene or depiction you’re looking to describe. Clever wordologist Amy Taylor shows us a lot here: “A card-carrying member of the public library and ruthless Scrabble player, Amy’s wordological tendencies emerged at a young age.”
  4. Chop difficult points into bite-sized chunks. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Whether it’s a school report or a proposal for your boss, break apart massive thoughts into puzzles parts, and find fun in piecing it together. Bit by bit.
  5. Get off the screen. A recent Nielsen report found Americans spend 34 hours a week watching TV- almost a full-time job! Whether you’re glued to a computer, tablet, TV or smartphone – give your eyes and brain a break. You can’t improve creativity when sucked into the tube.
  6. Marry two unlikely ideas together. Some of the most creative people I know are really matchmakers. Or perhaps they’re alchemists, concocting same-old ideas in new ways? Either way, hopefully that gives you an idea of what I mean.
  7. Ditch a project for a day. Sometimes I get to the point I’m thinking too hard and my brain feels fried. If there’s wiggle room before a deadline, I set aside the writing project and return (hopefully) refreshed the next day.
  8. Talk to yourself. I won’t tell if you don’t. While typing, if you get stuck, something about verbalizing thoughts makes them register differently. When you don’t know what to say when writing, you may need to hear it. 
  9. Juice up your verbs. Being an interesting thinker, speaker, and writer, has everything to do with the words you use. Want to jumpstart your writing? Squeeze in eye-catching verbs.

Now tell me: What are your strategies to get in the creative zone?

Image credit: © Jenny Solomon | Dreamstime Stock Photos

On boogers and blogging

On boogers and blogging

Surprised to see boogers in this post title? I'd say it's well-picked, considering today's featured writer has no problem dishing the sometimes-not-so-pleasant details of parenting. She's not your typical "mommy blogger." With a professional journalism background, Natalie Clemens knew a few years into motherhood she needed an outlet. From wiping "meticulously placed" boogers off the wall, to aching for her stillborn baby, she shares intimate aspects of motherhood on her blog. I'm delighted to introduce you to a mama with a heart as big as her massive writing talent. 

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Rocking the mic(rosoft Word) as a force for good

Rocking the mic(rosoft Word) as a force for good

 

Wordologist Amy Taylor writes and lives with creative zest. Her deep love for connecting with people is reflected in everything she does, including her “Joy of Dirty Dishes” essay below. She recently launched an inspiring interview blog called Good People of Earth, with the tagline: “The world is full of good people. We’re introducing you to them one interview at a time.”  As a long-time Amy fan, I’m honored to share this larger-than-life writer with you.

Q. You caught my eye on the Brains on Fire blog, where you’re “busy rocking the mic(rosoft Word)” as a Lead Copywriter. What’s a favorite Brains on Fire project and why?

A. That is such a difficult question! One of my recent (and really fun) projects was writing scripts for Wonderopolis’ “Camp What-a-Wonder” podcasts. Camp What-a-Wonder inspires kids and families to keep wondering and learning together throughout the school-free summer months. This year we decided to create Camp What-a-Wonder podcasts that would guide kids on weekly offline wonder adventures.

I think this project was particularly meaningful as it gave me an opportunity to relive my happy childhood. As a child, my parents read to us constantly, and we always had art projects going on somewhere in the house. All of this allowed my creative side to flourish from a young age. I think technology has really changed the childhood experience for modern kids, and not necessarily in a good way. I love that the podcasts allowed us to leverage technology to inspire children to get active, go outside, explore, daydream, create, and use their imaginations.

Q. On your site, wordology.org, you share a brilliant ideology: “Your message should be as remarkable as your mark on the world.” How did you come to this thought?

A. I think a lot of brands get so caught up in the business of business that they lose touch with their humanity. A business is made up of people—and made by people. Every brand, business, and organization begins as a passion and a dream, whatever that may be. People are exposed to thousands of marketing messages per day. Your customers (and potential customers) don’t want you to assault them with a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo, they want to hear about the passion and dream that get you out of bed each morning.

Q. As a “wordologist,” where do you want to take your writing in, say, 10 years?

A. After years and years of encouragement (and borderline badgering) from friends and family, I just finished writing my first children’s book—and am embarking on the quest to find a publisher. My dream is to see my story in the hands of children around the world, and nestled between beloved bookshelf classics like “Goodnight Moon,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

On a more universal scale, I want to be able to give back. I have been very blessed to have amazing mentors guiding me throughout my career and life. I want to help other young writers however I can. I believe the more connected and supportive we are as a creative community, the more empowered we are to use our gifts to inspire positive change in the world.

Q. Is your passion for animal advocacy behind your @NoMeatballs Twitter identity? Or do you really have story behind meatball loathing? Tell, tell.

A. I always get a kick out of all the speculation about my Twitter handle. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best choice, but it has turned out to be quite the conversational piece.

While it’s true that I am an incredibly passionate animal advocate, the real backstory is far less exciting. I was about 10 years old, sitting down to dinner the day after Halloween. Like most kids, I had no interest in the spaghetti and meatballs placed before me when I could be chowing down on candy. My mother, however, was unwavering in her demands that I eat real food before Halloween candy. I tried to choke down a meatball in a fit of anger, which only resulted in my body instantly rejecting the effort. The meatball came right back up. I have held it against meatballs ever since.

Q. Share three of your writing heroes – and why they inspire you.

A. James Reeves: I don’t remember how I discovered James Reeves, but I am thankful I did. “The Road to Somewhere” is beyond amazing. As soon as I finished reading it, I got up from my sofa and wrote him a letter.

Anthony Bourdain: Even if snarky charm isn’t your cup of tea, there’s no denying the man has a way with words. His poetic reflection on the human spirit is beautiful and inspiring. We may not all be able to travel the world 333 days out of every year, but Bourdain finds a way to bring the world to us through his writing.

Bukowski, Kerouac, Nin, Hemingway and Cummings: I’m counting this bunch as one entity, as I like to think of them as my spirit-side sensei. They all lived beautifully broken lives, but somehow found a way to channel their experiences, adventures, and heartbreaks into some of the most marvelous literary works in the world.

“The Joy of Dirty Dishes”

I hate it when people leave, but I love the silent hum and hush that fills the house after a happy evening with people you love. I spent my childhood sneaking peeks at my parents’ parties, trying to uncover where that magic comes from. To this day, I still haven’t been able to find the right word for it, but I know what it looks like. Empty wine bottles, spent corks scatted about. Layers of plates stacked on top of one another. Plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil, plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil. Stacks and stacks of dirty dishes in the sink—but for just one night, nobody cares.

It leaves the empty spaces between walls and floors, foundation and ceiling radiating with the energy of life.

It’s hard for me to imagine many other moments in life when I feel more acutely aware of the passing of time than in the hum and hush. These moments leave me feeling deeply blessed, wishing for a bigger dinner table…and more minutes, more years, more dinners, more cheers, more refills and popped corks and cups of coffee (I won’t drink) with dessert.

If I ever write a cookbook, I’m going to call it “The Joy of Dirty Dishes.”

And I will mean it.

Connect with Amy

See her amazing websites:

wordology.org      goodpeopleofearth.com

Email: AmyAB.Taylor@gmail.com 
Twitter: @NoMeatballs

Pinterest

About:
http://about.me/amyabtaylor  

Sliding down the fire pole, here she comes

Sliding down the fire pole, here she comes


Sometimes you come across a writer who fills a void you didn’t know you had. Katie Elizabeth Hawkes, blogger at katilda.com, surely is on my list. We’ve only met online recently, and let me tell you: This girl’s got pizzazz. She’s a pop culture devotee, blogging queen, and writer extraordinaire. Below you’ll see her article, “If Hunger Games Tributes Owned iPhones.”

Q. You admit on your blog you have a “life ambition to slide down a fire pole.” After you check that one off the bucket list, what’s your next big goal in life, particularly when it comes to writing?

A. Oh, the fire pole! I will conquer it someday. I read some articles online to make sure I know the proper sliding technique when the time comes. I can’t botch that moment! But on to your real question, I think one major goal, like most bloggers out there, is to gain a legitimate following online. I could write all day and night (oh wait, I already do), but having an audience is incredibly validating. As for my content writing career (shout-out to my incredible company!), there’s always more to learn and more ways to improve — I just never want to stop educating myself. And then there’s always the question of writing a book. I’m thinking maybe something about a school for wizards, and one of them has a lightning…oh wait, nevermind.

Q. Katie, you’re a creative writer at Skyhook Marketing, a contributor for the Huffington Post, and faithful blogger – looks like you’re quite delighted to write. What do you love about writing?

A. Writing is like art to me! (Probably crayon art, since that’s all I can handle in that realm.) But really, I love just pouring the words onto a page and then moving phrases around, tweaking punctuation and balancing it all out until it just clicks. There are few things more satisfying than thinking about something and putting it on paper exactly right. It’s like this ultimate moment of expression, and makes me want to run out my front door and with my fist in the air, yelling, “I did it, universe!”

Q. Originally you named your blog “Scruples,” after your favorite word – when and why did you change to katilda.com?

A. As a marketer, I’m involved in creating strong brand identities for my clients. I just decided one day that I wanted to solidify my own personal brand and commit myself to building a stronger, more memorable online presence. I love the word scruples (I think it sounds like a bowl of cereal), but I wanted to create a more seamless brand from my URL to comments I leave on other people’s blogs. Unfortunately, there are a zillion bloggers out there named Katie — so I needed to differentiate myself. My dad called me “katilda” in an email one day, and it delighted me so much that I decided to run with it.

Q. I’ve seen all lower-case writing popping up more and more lately. I notice you opt for it on your blog. I pin you more a trendsetter than follower, and I’m wondering – what was your thought process deciding to go lower case?

A. I appreciate you pinning me as a trendsetter — does this mean overalls are really going to catch on? (I’m involved in a very committed quest to bring them back into fashion.) As for the lowercase thing…I just liked having the more informal feel on my blog. Although I am generally obsessive about grammar, I usually write my personal emails to close friends and family without bothering with capital letters and such. That habit just carried over into my blog one day and decided to stick around, I suppose!

Q. You’re a word maker-upper. What word gems are you most proud of?

A. Excellent question! Well, I’m a big believer in referring to spandex pants as “spants.” I’m also quite proud of “hooligang,” which I use to refer to any group of delinquent youth. Another favorite habit is using “bieber” as a euphemism, aka “oh my bieber” and “what the biebs.” If you read my blog regularly, you’ll also pick up on the fact that “hooverdam” is my prime swear word of choice. I might say something like, “Good biebs, did you see the spants on that hooverdam hooligang?”

“If Hunger Games Tributes Owned iPhones”

They’ve changed the way the average person lives daily life, so it’s worth wondering — what would happen if popular fictional characters had access to iPhones?

It certainly would have a legitimate effect on The Lord of the Rings (I imagine Frodo would have killed for a solid GPS system and some Face Time with Gandalf) or High School Musical (imagine the limited number of takes if the cast could have practiced auto-tuning themselves beforehand), not to mention Twilight (all it would have taken is a simple “vampire symptoms” Google search and we could have skipped a lot of hemming and hawing on Bella’s part).

Because it’s the hottest thing on the pop culture radar these days, let’s take a look at this issue in relation to the smash hit The Hunger Games trilogy and upcoming film.

SOCIAL MEDIA

It seems like The Capitol pretty much has it covered when it comes to broadcasting the games to the districts on the outside. But any good social media follower knows that some of the best news comes via the tweets and posts of people on the inside — not from the glossed-over version available on major broadcasting networks.

The games might take on an entirely different flavor if the people had access to a constant Twitter stream from within the arena or some disgruntled Facebook statuses from an angsty tribute or two. And imagine the repinning power of a mockingjay image!

Not to mention, it would add some serious flavor to the romance situation if the audience could follow Katniss’ relationship status from “In an Open Relationship with Gale” to “It’s Complicated with Peeta” and everything in between.

You can read the rest of Katie’s article here at moviefone.com.

  Connect with Katie

Check out her blog, katilda.com

Follow Katie on Twitter @K8EHawkes

Email her: katildablog@gmail.com

Get her pro writing assistance at her site: seekatiewrite.com