Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 8-14, 2019

Here are some informal writerly learnings to peruse while you’re preparing for, or celebrating, the holidays.

Lori Freeland says that show, don’t tell, are the three most misunderstood words in a writer’s vocabulary. Then, Colleen M. Story shared seven ways writers can overcome holiday anxiety. Julie Glover is saying no to get to a more important yes. Writers in the Storm

Shaelin shares five of her favourite tropes. Reedsy

Rheea Mukherjee makes notes on writer dreams, gratitude, and the anxiety of authenticity. Jim Dempsey wants you to manipulate your reader’s point of view. Sarah Callender asks, is imitating the greats helpful or harmful? Kathryn Craft is manipulating story time for maximum effect. David Corbett shares a lesson in forgiveness from The Crown. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques: ten ways to write a better first chapter using specific word choices. Helping Writers Become Authors

Roz Morris shares five post-NaNoWriMo ways to use the holidays to keep your new writing habits … without revising too early. Nail Your Novel

Abigail K. Perry digs into James Scott Bell’s signpost scene 13: the final battle. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into the essay. Then, Constance Emmett shares five tips for post-publication survival and success. DIY MFA

Robert Lee Brewer points out the difference between lets and let’s. Writer’s Digest

Nathan Bransford offer the eight essential elements of a story.

Chris Winkle shares five ways to make multiple points of view more engaging. Then, Oren Ashkenazi explains why some dark topics are more sensitive than others. Mythcreants

Tim makes some excellent points about writing power escalation. Hello, Future Me

Heidi Fiedler stops by The Creative Penn: five ways to quiet your inner editor.

Jami Gold asks, what’s your core story?

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you’re leaving with some great resources for your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 22-28, 2019

Welcome back! It’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Michael Hobbes: everything you know about obesity is wrong. Huffington Post

Arvin Ash explains why we dream.

Erin Brunch explains how the “feelings wheel” reveals the complexity of your emotion. Confession: I was more interested in this for character development rather than personal development. Well and Good

SciShow Space news considered the impact (pun intended) of an ancient asteroid on Earth and the possibilities for feeding people on Mars.

Joe Pappalardo takes a squirm-inducing look at the parasites trying to control our brains. Popular Mechanics

Melissa Kent: Autumn Pelletier tells world leaders to “warrior up” to protect water. CBC

Paige Embry reports on the honeybee’s most fearsome enemy. UnDark

Michael S.A. Graziano considers the octopus: an alien among us. Literary Hub

Ze Frank gives us the True Facts of the ogre-faced spider.

A Space of Their Own, a New Online Database, Will Feature Works by 600+ Overlooked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Centuries. Open Culture

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to inform or inspire you next creative project.

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

ThoughtyThursday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Apr 21-27, 2019

Here are some media links that I hope will get your mental corn popping.

Our provincial government is cutting everything. Nurses, arts funding, education, they even cancelled OHIP coverage for out of Canada health issues (not that we had extensive coverage, but we had some) … here are just three of the distressing articles that have come out in the past week:

Those of you who don’t live in Ontario, let alone Canada, may wonder why you should care. It’s just one more conservative government making the average citizen’s life worse in the name of fiscal responsibility (read catering to big business). See any familiar themes?

The World Wildlife Fund assesses Canada’s protected habitats and finds them wanting. What we could be doing better to protect endangered habitat and species and prevent climate change at the same time.

In the good news column: Autumn Peltier named chief water commissioner by Anishnabek Nation. CBC

SciShow Space looks at how life might evolve without liquid water

 

David Robson: the dreams you can’t remember may never have occurred. The Atlantic

Emily Dreyfuss: you’re not getting enough sleep, and it’s killing you. Wired

Simon Makin explains how ketamine changes a depressed person’s brain. Scientific American

SciShow Psych: depression isn’t just a chemical imbalance

 

And that was your thoughty Thursday for the week.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my next chapter update for April. I’ve had to admit defeat and reorganize my plans for the year. Come on by and see what’s been going on in this writer’s life.

Until then, be well!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

The thoughy’s focused on psychology and neuroscience this week. What appropriate subject matter for getting your mental corn popping 🙂

Lisa Margonelli enters the jaw-dropping world of termites: a giant, crawling brain. The Guardian

Mark Humphries presents a new prime suspect for depression. The Spike/Medium

Bruce Goldman-Stanford says people with depression have low blood levels of this stuff (but that doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy some). Futurity

Joseph Frankel: hallucinations are everywhere. The Atlantic

Ermin Misirlisoy explains what happens when your body is no longer yours. Medium

Paula Cocozza examines night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean? The Guardian

Inverse: Your brain on horror with Shannon Odell.

 

Jacqueline Detwiler introduces us to the heroes of science who are unlocking the brain. Popular Mechanics

Ayodeji Awosika explains why it’s dangerous to focus on finding your passion and what you should do instead. Medium

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 23-29, 2018

Welcome to thoughty Thursday where the goal is to get your mental corn popping!

That Phoenix debacle that keeps popping up from time to time in my social media feeds or these curations? Yeah, that one. Here’s a video that may help explain things:

 

Sarah DiGiulio explains why your weird dreams actually make a lot of sense (according to neuroscience and psychology). NBC News

Megan Feldman Bettencourt: how forgiveness has been weaponized against women. In other words, to truly forgive someone, they have to be held accountable. Harper’s Bazaar

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the dead beneath London’s streets. Smithsonian Magazine

SciShow introduces us to the incredible biodiversity of Lake Baikal—plus, extremophiles!

 

Matt Reynolds examines the almighty tussle over whether we should talk to aliens or not. SETI, METI, and the arguments for and against. Wired

Stephanie Pappas: humans contribute to the Earth’s wobble. Scientific American

SciShow Space looks at the Dark Matter vs. MOND debate.

 

Eric Mack: NASA turns 60 and it’s reinventing itself for the SpaceX era. Cnet

Adrien Mauduit shares his time-lapse video of the skies over Tenerife:

 

Florence + the Machine cover Tori Amos’s “Cornflake Girl.”

 

Beck: Colours

 

I hope you found something interesting in this edutainment mix.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my next chapter update for September.

Until then, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

thoughtythursday2016

Muse-Inks: Weird mood stuff

So here’s the (first) thing: I’m freaking out inside (about my upcoming trip), but I’m trying not to freak out. I’m so excited I can barely stand it, but … if I let either of those two particular cats out of their respective bags, I won’t be able to function.

And I have to function. I have to be able to work. I have to be able to write. I have to be able to do normal, day to day stuff like laundry. And I have to be able to organize my shit and pack for the trip. Which, of course, loops me back around to freaking out.

Can I tell you that all this restraint is exhausting (and not have y’all think that I’m a whiny baby)?

Anxiety is real.

I may appear calm. I may speak quietly. I may smile.

Meanwhile, my heart’s beating a hundred miles an hour, I feel like I’m having hot flashes (and I’m of the age when some of them may be legitimate), I’m dizzy and feel like I might faint, and sometimes my extremities go numb. All of these reactions are the result of adrenalin release. Though I’m not actually experiencing anything that justifies fight or flight, my anxiety triggers the hormone cascade.

It also messes up healthy sleep, which means I’m perpetually tired.

Most of my effort centres on remaining clam. If I can prevent the cascade from happening in the first place, I’m good. So at the day job, I’m laser-focused until breaks and lunch and then I dive into one of the several novels I have on the go and I immerse myself in words.

I avoid talking about the trip, because that, in itself, can be a trigger. I can’t be rude, though, and once the topic comes up, I try to focus on the practical, the logical, the real. I’m not always successful. And once my anxiety kicks up, I can only ride it out, go for a walk to burn off some of the nervous energy, or focus on my breathing until my hands stop shaking.

An anxiety attack passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not hell while it lasts.

So, yeah. That’s the first weird mood thing going on.

The second is introspective weirdness.

I’ve written before that I used to dream vividly when I was young. I had nightmares and night terrors, somnambulism, and somniloquy (talking in your sleep). I’ve had out of body experiences, near death experiences, and other experiences of the universe that would be considered uncanny.

I’ve delved into meditation of various stripes, wicca, and European shamanism.

From my mid-twenties into my mid-thirties, I was what I would call a seeker.

After all the reading and the research and the exploration, I ended up settling on the uncertain ground of the agnostic. My experience of the universe defied definition. I didn’t want to force-fit it into a category. I let it be what it is, tell me what it wanted to, and I’d respond accordingly.

The problem is, as I get older, I’ve heard, or felt, those universal nudges less and less. And I don’t know what the cause is.

Have I, like Susan Pevensie, outgrown my sense of wonder? Recent events have led me to believe that this is not the case. Am I close enough to where I need to be that I don’t need those universal nudges anymore? Possibly, but why do I feel so … lost, then? Have I shut down my intuitive side? Again, it’s possible, but how can I tell?

I’ve been working on the assumption that all of the uncanny stuff has channelled itself into my creativity. This part of my life continues to blossom, but it’s a flower in a private conservatory. What’s the point if no one gets to see it?

I guess that’s what everything comes down to. I know what it is I need to do, and I do it. I write. I study craft and literature and story of all kinds. My life revolves around that central principle, sometimes to an unhealthy extent.

To date, however, I haven’t been able to produce a lot of objective evidence of the work that I’ve done.

I know that the writing is its own intrinsic reward. I will still be writing for the rest of my life, regardless of what does, or does not happen. I just keep missing, or messing up, opportunities to get my words out there, or my efforts proceed without significant results.

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The universe seems to be out of lessons. I need to find another way forward.

Maybe my big Baltic adventure will provide some answers.

In the meantime, I’m going to make the effort to remain open, to recognize a universal nudge if I get one, and to act on it accordingly.

There you have it: I suffer from mental illness (depression and anxiety), and I have an unorthodox view of the universe. Maybe one leads to the other? Or coaxes it along? Who’s to know? Unless the universe is interested in sharing … ?

I shall leave you on that ambiguous note.

This is my last weekend post until after Helsinki WorldCon.

I don’t know how active I’ll be on social media, though I’m sure I’ll be posting a scad of photos 🙂

As ever, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Muse-inks

How to dream your way to a great story at DIY MFA

There’s this thing I do over at DIY MFA. It’s a semi-regular column called Speculations all about fantasy and science fiction.

dreams

 

This is my third column, on sleep and dreaming. Come on over and visit. There are a lot of great columnists on lots of different genres and topics. Plus, Gabriela has a tonne of great resources, a podcast, courses, and other tasty writerly goodness for you to check out.

I have a little anecdote to share with respect to dreams and writing.

It has to do with this little tip:

  • Sleep on a creative problem. Similarly, if you’re stuck on a scene or a plot point, ruminate calmly on it before you sleep. Even if you don’t dream up a solution, your mind will be working on the problem and when you head back to the page, the answer might just appear. Like magic.

So it happened, just the other night.

I’d just finished writing and posting my Next chapter update and went to bed thinking about the short story I’m hoping to write this month. I had an idea that’s been simmering since January.

That night I had a dream that, taken at face value, had nothing to do with my story idea. Except that it did in that weird way dreams have. And now I have three quarters of the story sketched out in my moleskine. I just have to figure out an ending that will work.

It makes me furiously happy when my dreams cooperate with the muse. Or maybe they’re scheming. Whatever they’re doing, it works. Like magic.

 

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 16-22, 2016

Let’s get that mental corn a-poppin’!

Carol Mulligan explores the lore of the pour. The Sudbury Star

What are dreams? Drake Baer shares five of humanity’s best explanations for dreams. Science of Us

Anna Lovind: the shameless introvert.

Suzanne Lucas to employers: please stop punishing your employees for being introverted. Inc.

UpWorthy recommends Marzi’s cartoons to help others relate to intorversion and anxiety.

The Born Again Minimalist examines the gaslighting of the millennial generation.

Transgender rights bill passes key commons vote and heads to committee. The Globe and Mail

Too sweet, or too shrill? The double bind for women. Shankar Vedantam hosts the Hidden Brain podcast for NPR.

The transformative power of Moko. Michelle Duff for Broadly/Vice.

Cath Pound considers the great women artists that history forgot. BBC

Artist Toby Allen, who suffers from anxiety, illustrates mental illnesses as monsters. Bored Panda

Regina activists place warning labels on indigenous Hallowe’en costumes. CBC

I’m just going to leave this here. To the new culture cops, everything is appropriation. Cathy Young for the Washington Post.

Avaneesh Pandey: self-awareness may be a side effect of the brain trying to maximize entropy. International Business Times

Ben Paynter shares news about how the world is slowly winning the fight against Malaria. Fast Company

Sarah Knapton reports on how tool-making monkeys are prompting scientists to reconsider human evolution. The Telegraph

Bec Crew: scientists accidentally discover the process that turns CO2 into ethanol. This could change the world. Science Alert

Ross Pomeroy explains why Bill Nye changed his mind about GMOs. Real Clear Science

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle may finally be solved . . . by meteorology. Cory Charlton for The New York Post.

Loren Grush explains how the ExoMars spacecraft will make its way to the surface of Mars. The Verge

Catch Space.com’s coverage of the landing and other astro-news.

Maddie Stone: Pluto’s skies look more Earth-like than we’d imagined. Gizmodo

A spiral galaxy defies the cosmic flow. In an expanding universe, it’s actually getting closer to us. Also: how big is Proxima Centauri’s planet? Later in the week, we learn that the Schiaparelli lander (crash) site can be seen from orbit. Phil Plait for Slate.

Can the multiverse explain the course of human history? Andrew Crummey for Aeon.

Puppers! Buzzfeed

Alex and Jumpy, the parkour dog 🙂

 

Just a reminder, this is your penultimate thoughty Thursday prior to my #NaNoWriMo break.

I’ll see you next Thursday, but after that, you won’t get your weekly dose of thoughty until December.

Respect your priorities.

Be well.

All my (virtual) love.

Mel

Thoughty Thursday

Feeding my creativity

Here’s the prompt Gabriela sent this week for the DIYMFA launch team:

“Coming up with ideas takes practice. You have to train your brain to get creative on demand. You can’t sit around waiting for your muse to show up because she might take her sweet time. Instead, you have to go after your muse. Hunt her down and show her who’s boss. One writer told me he “keeps his muse chained to his desk.”

While I find that mental image of the muse-prisoner hilarious, I prefer to think of it a little differently. I have a shrine to my muse, a small box I call the ORACLE. (Like most things in DIY MFA, ORACLE is an acronym that stands for outrageous ridiculously awesome creative literary exercises.) Just like the ancient Greeks made pilgrimages to oracle temples so they could get guidance and wisdom from their gods, I visit my ORACLE whenever I feel the creative well going dry.

These contents have changed over time, but a few things have stayed constant:

  • Dice: I use dice for writing exercises whenever I need to leave something up to chance. I’ll assign each number an option, and then do whatever the roll decides.
  • Word Box: This small box contains slips of paper with words on them. I pull a few words out of the box at random, and then write a short piece that uses all those words.
  • Image Box: I keep an old chocolate tin filled with photos I clipped from magazines or postcards I picked up at museums. Whenever I’m stuck for ideas, I use those images to spark a story.

These are just a few things I keep in my ORACLE. I also have a paper prototype of the Writer Igniter app, a Writer Igniter deck of cards (also an early prototype for the app), a stack of fortune cookie fortunes, and a pocket-sized book of prompts.

Do you have an ORACLE? If not, treat yourself and start putting one together this week. It took me several years to refine and build my ORACLE, so don’t feel like you have to fill it overnight. Go out, get a nifty container, and start assembling materials to put in it.”

Muse-inks

I don’t have an oracle. I’ve bought decks of story cards, but, I have to confess that I don’t use them. I’m not fond of prompts, honestly, though the idea for one of my novels did result from a prompt. It was a Natalie Goldberg prompt, though, so that may have had an impact on how things turned out 😉

A lot of my story ideas come from my dreams, which, when I can remember them, are quite theatrical/cinematic in scope.

Other ideas come from articles that I read that trigger interesting connections in my head. I talked about the reasons I started my Thoughty Thursday curation a couple of weeks ago. I keep this curation going for myself as much as for others.

I share the posts and articles that make me think, start the mental corn a-popping. Some of those pops ignite story ideas.

I’ve always had story ideas, and more ideas than I knew how to write, especially when I was young. I used to write my stories (so-called) in Hilroy exercise books. I still have them. I still have most of the stories I wrote for school, too.

When I had an idea that I wasn’t sure how to write, I’d write as much as I could about it in one of those notebooks. Eventually, spiral bound notebooks and loose leaf paper replaced the exercise books.

That was the beginning of my idea file.

I mentioned last week as well was that when I was in university, I started making those thoughty connections with all the things I was learning in my classes. Psychology fed into sociology fed into Taoism fed into Old English fed into genetics fed into astronomy.

I started keeping my first journal in those years.

I have a stack of them now.

I keep one beside my bed to capture dream ideas.

I carry one in my purse so I can write down ideas that occur at work or when I’m otherwise away from other means of capturing them. I could use my smart(er than me) phone, but I like the feel of pen on paper. I take all my conference and convention session notes by hand as well.

Also during my university years, I worked in libraries. I learned a lot about research in those years, and, in the course of processing books and magazines to put on the shelves, if I came across an article that elicited a pop, I’d copy it. I called it being a clip rat.

These, too, went into my idea file.

I once clipped an entire series from a newspaper on families living on welfare. I also copied articles on the future of economics. And yes, both of these have story ideas that go along with them.

When the library’s collection was culled, I bought whatever books I could afford from the resulting sale. I accumulated a number of interesting, if slightly out of date, reference books, including an etymological dictionary (in two volumes), a name dictionary, and a couple of collections of popular quotations.

Currently, I read a number of blogs using Feedly. Before Feedly, I used Google Reader (when they announced the end of Google Reader, I was in a panic until Michael Hyatt mentioned Feedly in one of his blog posts).

Things that inspire an idea for a story, I clip to Evernote.

When I start working on a story, outlining, drafting, revising, I do my research in dribs and drabs. I use Evernote to capture online research as well.

Finally, my husband is a great source of ideas. We watch a lot of science fiction, fantasy, historical, and anime series. We have discussions about them. Because my man is Mr. Science, he’ll often have a few things to say about the poor science in a science fiction series. One of my stories was inspired by a discussion we had about Star Trek: The Next Generation.

He’s also very critical of story/plot quality. We can have animated conversations about what writers do and fail to do in the series we like to watch.

I can also fact check some of my SF ideas with him. He’s awesome that way 😀

So, I have lots of ideas and a lot of the resources I need to refine them.

I find that the best way to come up with story ideas is to be present, pay attention, and capture them however you can.

I like to keep things simple.

Tomorrow: It’s next chapter update time 🙂

Next week: DIYMFA will be out on the 10th! I’ll be posting my review to Amazon and Goodreads, and posting it to Writerly Goodness on Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, October 4-10, 2015

I must have been a little light-headed last week . . .

Last week, Margaret Atwood had her say. This week, Joseph Boyden takes on Stephen Harper. MacLean’s.

A real nation would not let this happen. Why we need to care more about our First Nations. MacLean’s.

The rise of the teaching class: how the learning landscape is changing, by Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.

Arthur B. MacDonald shares the Nobel Prize for his work on neutrinos (done right here in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory – SNO)! CBC.

People can do some crazy things when they’re asleep. Psychiatric Times.

Tommy Walker explains why hope is not a valid social media strategy. ConversionXL.

What Dylan Thomas’s seminal poem can teach us about resilience. Forbes.

i09 shares the ten most excellent nicknames in history.

This song was just on Quantico this evening, and there I was, boogying in my seat. Beck – Dreams:

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday