Write What You Don’t Know (Yet)

Write to discover what you want to say. Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

Note: This post was originally published on my blog in April 2008.

Right now I’m reading a book called The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. The author, Louise Erdrich, is one of my favorite writers. I first learned of her when I was a freshman at Dartmouth. About fifteen of us who’d designated creative writing as a potential major were invited to meet with her and her husband, Michael Dorris, at the Montgomery House, where they were living as fellows and resident scholars.

I don’t remember much about the meeting, except that they served tea, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries. The authors gave us some advice, then invited us to ask questions. I’d never raised my hand to ask or answer a single thing in thirteen years of public education, but now, newly collegiate, I was surprisingly bold.

My question: “Everyone always tells writers to write what they know. But we’re only eighteen years old and nothing’s happened to us yet. What are we supposed to write about?”

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Book Review in Brief: Tribes, by Seth Godin

If you’ve been delving into the online world at all, you’ve probably heard the term “tribes.” For several years, management consultants, social networks, business book authors and others have been using this term to describe groups of people who come together around a cause, a project, a way of thinking, a hobby or an interest. Tribes can exist within organizations or outside of them, but the one thing they have in common is that they want someone to lead them.

Tribes by Seth GodinOne of the more recent additions to this line of thought is Seth Godin’s book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

Tribes is a slim book you can read in a day, and it’s short on details. Don’t read it thinking it will teach you how to launch a company, use Twitter, win over a community of bloggers or create a street team to spread the word about your product or book. But do read it if you’re confused about social networking and why you should get involved with it.

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Useful Writing Tools — Five Digital Favorites

Note: This post was originally published on 563media.com.

Choosing digital writing tools can be just as idiosyncratic as selecting a favorite pen or brand of notebook. Keeping that in mind, here are five of my favorite tools for productivity and creativity:

1. Write or Die software, by Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab 

The concept is simple. Set a timer and a word count, then enter your text in a box. If you don’t reach your writing quota by deadline, suffer the consequences—a loud, unpleasant alarm prodding at you, or worse—your writing being erased whenever your fingers stop moving. Your choice.

I love the simplicity. Great for when I need a little extra prod or the pressure of a deadline.

The downside: There’s always the chance your browser will freeze up or quit while you’re writing. This is less likely if you have a newer computer and a stable browser, and no other windows open at the time. Fortunately, more recent versions of this software include autosave options.

Link: Write or Die

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