You Should Be Reading Blogs

Reading inspires me to write.  Often it doesn’t matter what I read, though I will say, if I want to be inspired to write a poem – well, I read poetry.

If you are unsure what to read, you should start searching online for blogs that cater to your tastes and hobbies.  You may need to weed out some poorly written blogs.  You may need to avoid blogs that people start but then never update.  You may want to avoid blogs that have too many advertisements flashing in your face.  The point is, once you have found a few blogs you would like to keep up with, you will want to know when new posts are updated to those blogs.  A simple solution to that is to use an aggregator.

Fear not, this is simply an online tool that keeps track of all the blogs you follow.  When a new post goes up on a blog that you follow, you’re aggregator will set that post aside for you.  You can read it now; or later; or never.  Think of your aggregator as a personal secretary who organizes all of your incoming blog posts.

My favorite aggregator is Feedly.  It allows you to create your own categories, then drop your blog feeds into an appropriate folder.  I currently have folders for typewriter related blogs, Crafting blogs, classical music blogs, letter writing blogs, and of course writing blogs.

Many writers start blogs to share their own writing.  Great.  Want to read what other people are writing in gothic fiction?  Google “gothic fiction blogs”.  You’ll be presented with many, many options.  Some will be blogs attached to websites that advertise for publishing, agents, books, etc.  That’s fine.  Check out the blog.  If you don’t like it, don’t add it to your feed.  I didn’t find a personal blog regarding gothic fiction until the third google search page, so be patient.  Soon you’ll be finding blogs you want to read regularly.

Not sure how to add new content to your new feedly account?  Here’s a web page that will tell you all about it.  It may seem very technical but trust me, if you take a little time and experiment with it, you will be rewarded.  Pertinent news feeds and blogs will be at your fingertips in no time.  The best part of all is, you can always use google (or your favorite search engine) to learn about RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, vlogs – anything that might be helpful to you personally.

Want to keep track of your favorite blogs easily?  Check out the Feedly aggregator.  If you have any specific questions, let me know and I’ll help you out.  ~Tom~


The New Year-Resolve To Write!

Happy new year dauntless wordsmiths!

Power of Words

This is a great time to make one bold resolution- to write even more in 2018.

Here are some links to get you motivated.

Don’t forget to use this very website for more inspiration and motivation.  I just updated the Writing Resources page with more links.

Wishing you many prosperous (writing) experiences in 2018.  Cheers!  ~Tom~


Debrief- December 9 meeting

Great meeting today, thank you to all who participated.  Big thanks to Marti, Louis, and Dinty!  We heard about:

  • kind strangers
  • friendly (but confused) cooperation
  • baiting fish hooks, and
  • extended family

What will you write about today?

Our next meeting is Saturday, December 16 at the Blasco Library branch from 1-3PM.  This will be a writing group (not critique).  If you are struggling to get your writing done, this is the meeting to attend!

Our next critique meeting will be on Saturday, December 23room 219 at the Blasco Library.  After that, onward to the 2018 schedule!  ~Tom~


Upcoming meeting – Nov 25

Greetings intrepid writers!

We will be meeting this Saturday, November 25 at the Blasco Library, room 219 from 2:30 until 4:00PM.  Bring some of your writing to share (double spaced please), and please bring six (or more) copies of your writing so we can pass them around to everyone.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.  We are looking forward to a great turnout.  Don’t eat too much turkey, Happy Thanksgiving!  Looking forward to seeing you this Saturday.   ~Tom Hitt~

The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

sand_castleImagine a child on the sunny beach, building a sand castle.  She has her pail and shovel. She has unlimited amounts of media including sand, water, stones, sticks and shells.  As the creation rises, she recognizes in the materials the infinite possibilities of combination.  This is perceived as great wealth for creation and re-creation.  Once completed, there will be cajoling to come and see, see what I created!  There is also the learned understanding that the castle is ephemeral.  It will not exist tomorrow, unless she decides to build again.

Suppose she comes to the beach the next day, prepared to create an even better castle.  As she hurries to the sea she looks left.  A child and his mother are building an entire town around a beautifully manicured castle, complete with drawbridge, parapets and banners.  We can infer that our little girl’s excitement might be undercut, joy bleeding slowly out.  Sound familiar?

When I taught music in public schools, I was often distraught by my student’s immediate desire to compare the music they made in class with their favorite pop star icons.  Since I have retired, that perspective has redoubled.  When you want to learn to juggle, you can go online and learn the basics.  However, you will also run across videos of jugglers that seem to have a natural talent for juggling 5 disparate objects, while balancing on a unicycle, blindfolded.  The gap between what you might accomplish in 30 minutes of practice and that kind of talent may cause a deflating ego effect.  This is the corrosive effect of comparison.

Want To Write?  Write!

Sounds grim I know, but I have a solution for you in your daily writing habits.  I often refer to this perspective as looking through the telescope backwards.  Instead of internalizing the vastness of the job at hand, look at it from the perspective of small progression.  If you’re feeling like that little girl on the beach, raise your shoulders and begin building your castle.  Take cues from the mother and child you observed; “Ah, I never thought of using sticks that way!  I’m going to try that too.”  Imagine yourself going to them and introducing yourself.  Ask if you might help out with their creation.  In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Remember that when you compare your own work to work done by veterans, you want to glean clues as to why their work is successful.  Word choices, grammar, descriptive language, POV.  Then just select one tool or media that you observe in their work, and introduce (play with) that one idea on a page.

That’s how your own writing will improve.  That’s how the veterans learned.

Write every day without wallowing in comparisons.  Remember, just because you have all the sand in the world at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you have to use it all at once.  ~TH~

What Are You Up To?

“What are you up to?” my mother used to ask me when I was a kid, tacitly implying that I must be up to “no good”.  I will now ask you the same question regarding your writing life. What are you up to?

Most articles and books regarding successful writing practices boil down to this; you should write every day.  That’s what we call practice.  Uh oh, don’t stop reading yet!  It’s also supposed to be enjoyable.  I enjoy knowing that I have created pages and pages of original inspiration.  It feels good to know that I’m busy writing, creating something for myself.

That’s where your daily journal becomes all important.  You are allowed to write anything at all in your journal.  Bad poetry.  Terrible prose.  Essays with potty-mouth language.  Word lists.  Anything.  Here you might ask, “Then what’s the point?” Great question.

It trains you to write without judgement.  When I was writing songs, I churned out plenty of awful lyrics. Awful!  I may not have recognized it at the time, but I wasn’t sharing the songs with anyone, so I was able to sit on those songs and reflect on them.  As my writing improved, I came to appreciate the work that got me there, even though those early songs were cringe-worthy.   That’s what your journal does.  It allows you to collect all of your ideas into one place for later reflection.

If you have never kept any kind of journal or diary, now’s the time to start!  Write in it every day.  Stuck for an idea?  Do a ten minute timed writing.  Ten minutes. Boom. Done.

Eventually you will be carrying your journal everywhere (I recommend this anyway).  You’ll fill it up and start a new one.  Soon you’ll be coming up with short story ideas, novel concepts, poetry snippits, maybe even bits of song lyrics.

I have a couple of journals that overlap, and I always know where they are when inspiration pops up.  I’ve recently begun keeping a bullet journal as well, many folks find that format very useful.

Stay encouraged, figure out a process that works for you.  Only one rule; write every day.  ~TH~

Have any questions or comments about this post?  Don’t be shy, reply!  Happy to hear from you.