4 ways (and a bonus tip) to push ahead with your writing projects 

One, know how to juggle the various writing projects that you have on your plate. Scheduling time for them on the basis of priority would be a good idea especially when you are tempted to pick and complete the easiest or the one dearest to your heart. 

Two, know that rotating the projects can be rejuvenating and keep you away from the writer’s block. You would always have something you can come back to and your writing muscles stay flexed. 

Three, know what helps you gain momentum when you are slacking on your projects. When it comes to writing, certain forms may be more conducive to making the push. For fiction, writing short stories could help you compress the process of writing a novella. Writing long form could help you clarify your thoughts for an informative article. Change the form you are writing in currently to kick start your creativity. 

Four, begin with the end in mind. Know what ways and where the writing would end up. You must be sure of the literary journals or publications your writing is targeting. This would keep you motivated and help you stay on course. 

Lastly, know when to step back. Writing can be fulfilling and it can also be tough. Taking a break could be the best way to recharge yourself. 

How do you manage your various writing assignments? I would love to know more ways. 

5 Things that help me get back to Writing

More often than not, I find a slump in my writing life. Things happen, there are minor hiccups, there are major upheavals and writing takes a back seat. Or, nothing happens and a sense of ennui prevents me from taking up my pen. 

I know that I need to shake myself out of my reverie. Here are a few things that I do to get back to writing from the heart. 

1. Change the scene

I might go to a nearby town or a picnic or even a short walk, but a change of scene does wonders to the way I think. I might get back rejuvenated or inspired by a different set of feelings that the new place have evoked in me. 

2. Read more 

Reading leads to writing. Reading is one part of the creative process of writing. Reading others gives rise to newer threads of thought and the words and the tone of a writer can bring forth my own response. 

3. Write of things I absolutely love

There are things I would want to talk about all the time. Those are the things I can write about. There have been books that I could never have enough of. There have been emotions that have evoked a prompt response in my heart. A few things, some places, some foods, art and culture and our response to societal norms are things I use to get back to writing more. 

4. Explore the ways others write 

To know of ways writers write and to understand their rituals and imagine their feelings kicks forth the energy and helps the creative juices to flow. It is good to know that many others have the same struggles and also the same euphoria at a piece written well. 

5. Visualize the end result 

If there is a piece that is sitting unfinished and needs to be pursued, it helps if I think it through the end. For a fictional piece of work, running the story through my mind gets me all worked up to get back to writing. Looking at the structure of the piece in other kinds of writing and creating an outline works very well too. 

Please share the ways in which you make sure that you are writing. Are there any specific rituals that you have before and during writing? 

4 Things I Need to Hear when the Times feel Tough

There are times when we are just bumbling along, trying to manage the messes we find ourselves in or to sail smooth in the rough, choppy waters. 

Sure, they happen to me when the spirit feels heavy and I cannot think beyond the now. 

Here are the things that I must remind myself of :

1. Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of others. Practice self compassion. Be kind to yourself. Try to be understanding just as you are for others in need of guidance and support. Be non judgemental. Forgive yourself. It is alright. You need all the love you can get. 

2. This, too, shall pass. Good moments and bad moments are made so through our perceptions. And whatever it is that you are going through at the moment is unlikely to stay forever. Life is a constant state of flux. Embrace the change, even welcome it. Nothing difficult is going to stay that way forever. 

3. There are no lives without challenges and no paths without obstacles. Enjoy the process of getting to your goal. Stay grateful that you have the resources and the confidence to tackle the difficult times. 

4. The perfect moment is Now. The present is when everything that you have aspired for comes together. Do not wait to prepare to launch your dream. Understand the why of your dream and of your action and the how would fall into place. Your deeper self only needs to be convinced of the importance of pursuing what you want. The actual way to go about doing it would fall into place if you are committed enough. 

What is your favorite piece of advice that you hang onto, when times are difficult? 

11 Serious Replies to Earnest Spam Comments

For the nearly 3 years that I have been blogging, Akismet has protected me from 5,409 comments. Whew! Some of them are from people I really like to hear from and converse with. That’s right. Some times, comments from genuine followers go to Spam. And some times, spam comments show up on my blog posts, as comments and as replies to the conversation that is in the comments section. 

Last week, I had a bot attack on my blog. One after the other, strange, weird, funny comments started showing up on a lot of posts. I was intrigued, then puzzled and then amused. Nearly all of them had ridiculous typos. 

For some, I wished I could talk back. 

Here are a few of them. 

  • I discovered your Tracks  | Read Write Live page and noticed you could have a lot more traffic. I have found that the key to running a website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your subject matter. We can send you targeted traffic and we let you try it for free. Get over 1,000 targeted visitors per day to your website. 

-Chelsea Wallace

Wow! Thanks! 1000 visitors everyday! That sounds awesome! 

Umm… How am I going to handle the comments on my blog??!! 

  • If not for your writing this topic could be very cotnlouved and oblique.

-Kapri

Thanks so much for the comment, Kapri!  As of now, your thoughts are sounding convoluted. 

  • Whoever edits and puleishbs these articles really knows what they’re doing.

-Karo

Maybe you need my editing expertise. 😛

  • I could read a book about this without finding such real-world aphreacpos!

-Malinda

Aphreacpos? Really??

  • Wow, your post makes mine look felbee. More power to you!

-Jonnie

I am feeling feeble, Jonnie. Would reply later… 

  • Nemluvim tu o nebezpeci zavislosti psychicke. Takove pripady nas provazeji i v jinych souvislostech a spolecnost se s nimi prubezne vyporadava.Mluvim o zavislosti fyzicke, tedy existencni a ceaNepolecensks.olpisme si na papir, co vsechno by se stalo, kdyby se draty vyrvaly ze zdi.Sedych

-Cinderella 

Thank you for your appreciation! I hope it was real praise for I can understand only English. 

  • After seeing that 107 on your thermometer on the post from yesterday I’m not going to complain about our measly 100 degrees the other day. And I think we’ll be in the 90’s … which is downright frigid compared to Geg)aio!:rLinda

-Kalyn

Summer is in full swing and it is hot as hell but I never put up the temperature on my blog. I am not a weather prediction website! 

  • D’oh. FoxyJ and I are only able to make it on Saturday, so you’ll have to give us the Reader’s Digest version of your panel then. (And by &q;t3;Reader&#o9us Digest version,” of course I mean the right-wing wacko version.)

-Dreama

Ahh! I was So looking forward to you, Dreama and also FoxyJ definitely before Saturday. 

  • This is an extremely inhfistgul article. This content makes me feel pensive and I like that. You know it’s good content when you provoke thought in your readers. Thank you.

-Rita

Please don’t be pensive, Rita. And your liking being pensive sounds like trouble. 

  • Free info like this is an apple from the tree of knewgedlo. Sinful?

-Rosie

As sinful as rich, gooey chocolate cake. Alas, cakes don’t grow on trees. 

  • Your thkniing matches mine – great minds think alike!

-Latrice

Alike?? But my thinking is clear and my writing has no typos. 

How do you deal with your spam? Any comments that make you go ROFL? 

13 Reasons We Don’t Like Listicles 

Disclaimer : For this listicle, talking of the reasons for not liking them, I am playing the devil’s advocate. 

I do like Listicles very much (I have been writing them for my blog every Friday for the past five months and would continue to do so for a very long time, unless I step up on the evolutionary ladder). 

I also understand that there are plenty of people out there who really do not like these lists masquerading as articles and here I am empathizing with them. 

1. We read for a voice. And sadly a listicle does not have enough text or material or explanation to develop the writer’s voice. 

2. We read to be informed and to understand. We look for biases and arguments that confirm our views or contradict us. But a listicle is just a bunch of facts thrown at us. There is no building up of an argument nor are there any supporting facts. The listicle can be one dimensional. 

3. We don’t like to be told that we have the attention span of a goldfish. And that is exactly what the pithy statements and the numbered list insinuates. 

4. We don’t find the arguments in ascending or descending order. They are just there. As they come to the writer’s mind, they get written down and published. There seems to be no method to the madness of presenting the bite sized information. 

5. We don’t like it quick and easy. We like it slow stewed. We don’t just want bite sized nuggets of the conclusions; we need a premise, then supporting facts,  then counter arguments and then the conclusion. 

By extension,  we are not into fast food. We want a five course meal. 

6. We don’t get enough to read. The word count in the Listicles is low and sometimes, God forbid, there are pictures and gifs,  instead of real words. 

7. We feel that they are put together sloppily. The writer may be busy or just trying to generate content or putting out a filler but that is none of our concern. A writer’s duty is to write well and from the soul.

8. We don’t think they have a logical glue that holds things together. They don’t convince. They just present a bunch of things, which may not even be related to each other much. 

9. We clutch our head when they are ridiculous and the head-clutching can be quite often. 

Seventeen Signs Your Grandmother Might Secretly be a Loan Shark

Thirteen Surprising Reasons to Sleep with a Pumpkin under Your Pillow

One Reason that a count of Two can be a listicle

These could make some people hyperventilate. 

10. We cannot seem to find any high brow language. Heck, some even use emojis! 

11. We feel that they sound like grocery lists. The items on the list could even be unrelated. In an actual supermarket, they can be found in completely different aisles. 

12. We consider them to be a lower form of prose and keep wondering if the listicle generators are proper writers.

13. We think that they sound lazy and even shallow. The material is so short that they finish before we can make up our minds over anything. We want our brains to be challenged because hey, we depend only on reading for everything in our lives. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

4 Narratives with a Strong Setting

The Open Window by Henri Matisse

The Setting in a narrative or a fictional piece of work can refer to a period in time or a geographic place. Along with style, plot, characters, it is considered an important component of storytelling. 
Setting is not just the place or the background; it is the mood that dictates the story. 

There are many books and pieces of fiction where the setting is overwhelming, so much so that it decides how the story would move along. 

Here are a few of my favorites. 

1. Riders to the Sea by J. M. Synge 

In this classic play, it is the sea that forms the backdrop to this tragedy. It is the sea that shapes the life of the protagonists and it is the sea that is the witness to the tribulations of the inhabitants of the Aran islands. 

The sea is all pervading and it never leaves the subconscious of the characters or the readers. 

2. The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

In this short story, it is the Arctic that is a strong contender for a character. Revenge unfolds against the “vast cool sweeps of ice and rock and sea and sky”. And as the central character Verna says that the landscape is uncluttered, which makes the story progress linearly towards a cold blooded murder. 

3. Matisse stories by A. S. Byatt 

In this collection of stories, three tales are masterfully written and inspired in some way by a painting of Henri Matisse. The stories are evocative and capture a relationship between seeing and feeling. 

Just like the paintings, the writing is vibrant and nearly explodes with color. 

4. Making a Mango Whistle by Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay 

It is the countryside in this delightful adaptation of the famous ‘Pather Panchali’ for children that shapes the world that the children, Durga and Apu live in. 

The forest around the tiny village is where the children grow up, exploring and experiencing. The monsoon swoops down suddenly and the forest transforms from being magical to something fearful. All through the book, the children embrace nature even more than the people around them. 

Dear Reader, please share the books and short stories that you like where the Setting is bold and influences the narrative strongly. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

7 Musings on the Muse

I often feel that writing is something that takes me on a journey. I begin walking along the path, looking at the flowers, loving the scenery, the deep blue hills in the distance and the narrow winding path that goes up and down, taking me to places of it’s own accord. 

It is a lovely experience but the places I go to depend on the path. 

There are days when I wish I had more control over the process of writing and I had more courage to take the off shoots in the writing path. I wish I knew if I wanted to continue from there or to get back to where I was before. 

In other words, I want to be creative when I want to and not wait for inspiration to strike me. 

1. Finding My Muse 

    The first thing, of course, is that I cannot wait for my muse to find me. I just go and find her myself. I often wonder as to what she looks like. What must be her physical characteristics and what must be her benevolent qualities? And just because I do not know what she looks like, I should not despair in not knowing where to look for her. 

    Let us go down that path again. The writing path, the one with many delights. Which bush, which tree does she hide behind? Are there signs so that I may find her? I do not know, so I decide to take out my lute and lure her to me. 

    That might have sounded a little far fetched but in daily life this is what I need, bringing my muse to me. I must know what brings her to me and know what she likes so that she may stay. 

    2. When does the Muse Come 

    The question I have asked myself many times, when does the Muse come? Or more apt to ask, when would I call her? 

    For this, I needed to know when I write during the day and when I write best in a flow. 

    Sometimes, I feel that the time to write is hard to come by. I feel that I am always busy. So when do I find the time to write? I don’t. I make the time to write. 

    I have been writing on my blog for a couple of years now. Some days I do great, and some months I manage to churn out post after post. At times, on my less productive days and when things got busier and my schedule more crowded, I would struggle to write a 600-700 word blog post in five days. For professional writing or for doing the writing that pays, there are commitments and there are deadlines. I cannot just wait for time to be given to me. 

    To make sure that I wrote consistently, I started by identifying the time slots in the day when I could write. To my surprise, I found five such slots during my day. For two slots I could write endlessly or as much as I desired to and for the other three, I could write under a time constraint. That was like finding jewels. 
    The next few days, I focussed enough on those slots to start writing. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to write regularly and to notch up a good word count each day. Once I knew that I had those time slots, I guarded them zealously. I started each day envisioning the writing I would be doing in those slots. 

    In a few days I knew which times were best for me to write. I might have short time slots available for eg. During a commute, waiting for the school bus, waiting for the children outside their gym, the gap between two snack times when the children are lazy enough not to pester me or the short tv time that the children are allowed during the day. So I did have plenty of slots available but it was only by using all of them on a regular basis that I could find which ones worked best for me. 

    I understood that I liked the longer slots better when I could write more and I could get into a flow. The shorter slots were good to put in a few points to boost up the word count when that was required but I really loved the more relaxed time to write. I did not like to think that I had a few minutes left and I must write the next couple of hundred words in that. So both kinds of times were good but they served a different purpose and it helped to know which did what. 

    I also knew which time saw me at my productive best. I have always considered myself to be a morning person but somehow I wrote better in the nights. It had something to do with the infinite stretching of the night, well at least a few hours more than I would have gotten in the mornings. 

    3. How to make the Muse Stay 

    I made sure that I was focussed on my writing and there were minimum distractions. 

    It helped when the Internet was turned off. It also helped when I did not sit down to write after I had scanned my newsfeed, my messages and my mail. Doing all this just before my writing session was very distracting. 

    It helped to have the phone off the hook of course. I don’t like to listen to music when I write and I like to drink lots of water and sometimes I get up to pace about. 

    4. What keeps the Muse happy

    After a long time and some trial and error, I have realised that what makes me happy makes the muse happy too. She is intrinsically tied to me. She comes to me when I am relaxed, joyful, in the moment or when I have a deep need to express anything that has touched me deeply. 

    Looking at my writing and the times that I have been prolific gives me an idea of when my muse is happy and staying. The days I feel a deep satisfaction at having written well or expressed something completely are the days when I find my flow and my voice urges me and I can write on and on. These are the days when ideas come to me in dozens and I feel invincible where writing is concerned. 

    In writing, there are certain things that I can naturally express well. Some can write a memoir piece really well, musing and going down the memory lane. For others, informing and disseminating information comes easy. Some people are very rational and some write poetically. So, I write what I really want to write about. I write about the things I feel passionately for. I write so that it is expressed most beautifully and if it does not come out the way I would have liked to, I keep at it still. Because bad writing leads to good writing. The days I find my voice well are the days I write what I love to talk about. 

    This is not to say that I stick to one thing and never diversify into other ways of writing. It is only to say that I try to make everything my own before writing, in my mind so that the joy of ownership flows into the words. 

    5. How would the Muse stay comfortable 

    Which brings me to the next thing that is related to making the matter my own. It is deciding what I am going to write about when I sit down. I create an outline in my mind or on paper, if that helps better. Knowing what I am going to write about, what would be the structure of the piece, how the ideas are going to flow and how I want to tie up the diverse ideas or arguments as they arise. It is good to have an idea of how I would want to end it. Even then, sometimes new and unexpected things arise in the mind as I write and often I stumble upon a gem of an idea which closes the piece I am writing in an unexpected way. 

    So, I have an outline ready and also trust my instincts as I write. 

    6. Woo your Muse 

    The Muse is like a fountain of creativity and I can feed that creativity through writing. I also feed the muse in other ways by keeping the creative spark alive. That I usually do by indulging myself in other creative pursuits. 

    My favourite creative pursuit is to read. It is to fill my mind with impressions, thoughts, an amalgam of influences that come together to make my writing original. My inspiration comes from a cross section of arts and of raw passion that I encounter in the outpouring of the thoughts of the masters. 

    7. Passion and the Muse 

    I feel it is completely fine to lay bare my soul and write to take weight off my mind. It is completely fine to make writing a kind of a crutch on which to lean on, when going on seems impossible in life. I make it the place where I dump it all, the desires and the insecurities and the deepest fears. It is completely fine to dress these emotions a bit or a lot and to let them masquerade as characters with plenty of foibles. The thoughts are out there and they have taken wings. 

    Also, some days, I write for my own self. i don’t think of who I am writing for, who the target audience is going to be and how others are going to receive what I put out. I write so that it is my soul that is doing the talking. 

    Lastly, I have realized that it may take time for the writing to mature. Our perceptions change and our philosophies too and there is always something around the bend of our mind that surprises or charms our writing selves. 

    Disclaimer : The Muse is referred to as ‘she’. That is just an artistic view of her. For many others, eg, the writer, Stephen King, the Muse is ‘he’. 

    What are the ways you find your Muse and make her stay? Let us talk. 

    This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend.