Tag Archives: cross pollination

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for October 18, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer | The 99 Percent
Jocelyn K. Glei has compiled a great list of insightful snippets from 25 famous authors, from P.D. James and Kurt Vonnegut to Margaret Atwood and Annie Dillard.

Here’s a sample of the quotable wisdom provided, from Cory Doctorow, author of “For The Win”:

Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.

The 5 Step Process That Solves Painful Writing Problems
Copyblogger contributor Brian Clark presents a simple regimen for avoiding writer’s block, bloated copy and do-nothing endings. The most surprising part of the system he recommends? Headlines and subheads should be developed before the rest of the body copy – which is rarely the order in which they are developed for magazine articles.

Spend Some Time Living Before You Start Writing | Advice to Writers
Jon Winokur quotes novelist Annie Proulx, who confronts the old saw “write what you know” head-on, saying, “It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. ”

Game Changer | Fast Company
Do games have any place in the training of future journalists? Adam L. Penenberg, a journalism professor at NYU, reports on the improvement in learning retention in his graduate classes after he layered in game mechanics (prizes, walking tour treasure hunts, social media leader boards) to his business and economics course. An intriguing article and interesting reading for anyone following the emerging trend of schools employing simulations and games to stimulate learning.

If “He Said, She Said” Journalism Is Irretrievably Lame, What’s Better?
Jay Rosen, journalism educator and author of Press Think blog, discusses his criticism of a recent NPR investigative series on security at the Mall of America and shares examples of paradigm-busting online publications that insist on fairness but do not hide behind “objectivity” as a way of coming to a well-researched and well-reported conclusion about the facts as a reporter has discovered them.

How to feed your journalism cow
UK journalist Adam Westbrook suggests a number of idea-sparking sources for writers of nonfiction and those in associated genres (filmmaking, photography, design). I’m most interested in exploring Adam’s own Video.fu film library, which focuses on nonfiction films that tackle their topics in a story-based way, and using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter as a source of ideas that their owners are trying to make viable.

Bonus!

Forget the candy, give books for treats this Halloween
Book editor Barbara McNichol shares a link related to the Books for Treats campaign, which aims to replace the candy-begging ritual in American neighborhoods at Halloween with adults giving out books to kids instead of candy. What a great idea!!!

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Feed Me! Non-Writing Blogs That Can Nourish Your Work

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Photo by Jan Willem Geertsma via SXC.

Despite my admitted tendency to read books about reading and write blog posts about writing, I do think it’s important for writers—especially nonfiction writers—to expose themselves to other sources of information when they go online, if for no other reason than to have something to write about!

Today’s post was inspired by a post I read recently at Fuel Your Writing Blog, “6 Non-Writing Blogs You Should Be Reading.” I enjoyed visiting several sites suggested in the post, particularly PostSecret and Craziest Gadgets. I’ve decided to offer my own list of non-writing-centric blogs to add to their RSS aggregators, with an explanation of why each one might benefit you as a writer.

Zeitgeist Zen

When thinking of writing topics or story ideas, it’s nice to have your finger on the pulse of what your friends and neighbors are talking about, so that your stories have some resonance for your readers. Open Culture bills itself as the “best cultural and educational media on the web,” and it never fails to stimulate my mind with links, videos and tips relating to arts, culture, education and history.

If you want to pick the brains of today’s “thought leaders,” or research high-profile story sources, visit the TED blog. Developed in 1984 as a conference to bring together leaders in technology, entertainment and design, TED has become a portal for spreading ideas through brief, information-packed presentations. It’s become an intellectual badge of honor to be invited to do a TED presentation, so whether you’re scouting sources or just fishing for interesting topics to write about, TED is a great place to park your eyeballs for an hour.

If your writing has an advocacy bent (either covering change movements or participating in them), you will want to check out GOOD, which bills itself as “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” Covering design, the environment, business, food, people, politics and much more, the blog summarizes the best of the organization’s magazine.

Artistic Notions

The relationship between writing and other artistic disciplines can be a pretty tight one, and cross-pollination is highly likely if you’re paying attention.

Tammy, the author of Daisy Yellow blog, describes her site as “a vivid life with kids,” and her art projects prompts cover both experiments for adult artists to try and family art-making projects. Her site is always alive with color and creativity—if you’re feeling verbally dry, rest your eyes on her posts, maybe even try a few of her suggestions, and see if that doesn’t get your writing mojo working again.

Chris Zydel at Creative Juices Arts blog is a wild woman! And her blog can help you release your inner wild writer! She writes passionately about the creative process and the need to maintain a direct connection with the playful spirit inside each person in order to make living, authentic art. Her latest post (as of this writing) is “Abuse your art supplies,” and many of her entries are in that vein—intense, dead-on and incredibly encouraging.

If you have a passion for music, revive your writing by visiting Elaine Fine’s Musical Assumptions site. Her posts remind me of wonderful conversations I’ve had with other musicians after we’ve rehearsed together—and that sort of relaxed idea-interchange and creative intimacy is often just the ticket to get a writer’s mind flowing with narrative or wordsmithing ideas for their own work.

Eyewitnesses

I’ve sort of fallen in love with infographics. In addition to being something that every 21st Century journalist should understand, they are terrific examples (much like Twitter updates) of delivering a message filled with impact using few, or even no, words.

Two of my favorite infographic sites are Information Aesthetics and Information is Beautiful. Each is set up slightly differently, but both link to dazzlingly beautiful graphics that take complex issues and boil them down to the basics one needs to grasp them and discuss them intelligently. If only our writing could do that more often!

In a related vein, I also love the Hand Drawn Map Association’s website.  With maps ranging from blocking diagrams for stage plays to directions to church, I find perusing the site a very interesting study in how people represent spatial relationships and how they approach writing directions for something that must be done in real-time (i.e., navigating a 3-D environment).

Exercising your options

One other blog that I like to read for its quality writing on a topic many would consider a hobby (or perhaps way of life) is Jill Homer’s Up in Alaska blog. Jill works for a newspaper in Juneau, but the purpose of this blog is to chronicle her cycling and other endurance sports pursuits—which she does, lyrically and enjoyably.

I’m not a regular bike-rider, but her descriptions of days-long tours into the backcountry make me want to don my helmet and take off for parts unknown—on-road or off. She does a good job of capturing the intensity and satisfaction that cycling must bring her, and for that reason, it is a good blog to follow in terms of translating a visceral experience onto the page.

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