WRITING

writing

There are so many subjects I would like to write about.

I have wild ideas all the time. When one idea is promising I even draft a first essay in my head.

The non-writing part is so easy!

The writing is the hard part of course.

So over the past months I have read quite a few tutorials and books on the subject.

I find it fascinating! The writing world can be so rich. I am also a passionate reader and I appreciate to get an insight of the mechanism at play behind my favorite blogs or books.

Did the reading about writing actually help me to write better?

Well, no… At least not directly.

I would say it has raised my awareness on how I want to write and what works for me and doesn’t when writing blog posts (for example):

  • Write like you talk.This is much easier to say than to apply. Additionally, I’d like to add: but only if you know how to talk… As a parallel goal to improving my writing,  I also wish to become a better speaker and would like to join a toastmaster club soon.  
  • Get to the point immediately. For me it is a struggle because this is not how I communicate orally. Especially on complex issues or stories, I don’t like to be too direct. I’d rather approach the subject laterally and give people ‘impression’ rather than direct opinion on what’s right or wrong. I also won’t ever just tell someone:

‘I almost had a one-night stand last night but at the last minutes the guy refused to use a condom’.

To be honest I am not sure the way I posted about it was optimal (it was fun to write though!). When and if I tell this story to my friends, I unfold it slowly, building up the suspense with spicy details, going sometimes off track, referring to previous experiences in order to show how this one experience was unique, and what was my state of mind.

  • Stay focus and on topic. I guess this goes together with the previous point. However I find it much easier to follow. I f I see myself referring to another topic, I will just start a new draft where I will jolt down all what came into my mind. And move on.
  • Share a personal story. But why would you care about my own experience? It’s nothing special, I can assure you. Besides I don’t want to be vulnerable or worse seem pretentious…
  • The single function of the headline is to get people to read the first sentence. I found astonishing how hard it is to find an fitted headline to a blog post. I also understand that when you write you should keep the reader in mind. And what you’d like the reader to do is to spend some of his precious time on your writing: it all start with the headline! But also:

  • The purpose of the first sentence is to get you to read the second sentence. Nothing more, nothing less.

Each sentence is so short and easy to read that your reader starts to read your copy almost as if being sucked into it. Think about the analogy of a locomotive. When the locomotive starts to chug from a standing start, it really works hard. The amount of commitment and energy that the train must exert is monumental. But once the train starts to move, the next few feet become easier and the next few even easier. ~ Joe Sugerman

    I just love this insight. I think it is also a good tactic when writing. That is, when I start a blog post, I try to start with a few short sentences – isolated and if possible ON TOPIC!

  • Use a balance of ‘I’ and ‘you’. Simple to implement and very pertinent I think, even though I haven’t started doing that consciously yet.  It is particularly true for personal development blogs or expert (?) blogs on finance or writing for example.
  • List posts are one of the best format to get viral. In particular, bullet points can be very useful in any blog posts to make the reader stop if he’s skimming and get him to focus on a bite-sized, result-driven component of your content. Readers also like to receive short and clear instruction on a topic rather than a lengthy dissertation. Using bullet points can serve just this purpose.
  • At the end of your post,  make the reader take action. One of the advantages of the blogging format is that you can engage with your audience. I hadn’t paid attention to it at first but most blog posts finish with a call to action. Even one as simple as ‘Please leave a comment’. You might think to leave it out but apparently we, humans, like to receive clear instruction with regard to what is expected of us.
  • Editing is a big part of writing. Depending on the day I found this exciting or boring. It’s exciting because it feels like you are sculpting your thoughts. You strip them from the superficiality and dress them with profound insight you didn’t even know you had when first starting to write. It’s also boring because sometimes when you have a text out of your system you just wish to move out to the next promising topic.

I could go on with this list for another 500+ words, I think, as the skeleton of writing is one with many bones (also one good advice is to avoid cheesy clichés…) . But I can’t help wondering:

So is it really the right formula to be truly memorable?

Once you know what you are looking for, you find this writing frame everywhere.

It has become so standard, I, for example read the first paragraph to get a good feel on what the blog post is about. I then skip to the bullet points. If I have time, I will read what’s after the parts in bold, knowing it will most probably be one example taken from the writer’s own experience. Otherwise I will just skim through it.

So at the end, there is very little chance I will remember this particular post as it is so similar to thousands of others!

This has become a central question throughout my own writing as I am still looking for my true voice.

I will most probably revisit the subject in a few month to see where I stand with regard to the above points and how I try to achieve writing EPIC SHIT.

Corollary:

It took me three days to write this post.

It made me feel good very good to finally put down my thought on writing. It was like the words had to get out.

However I am conscious that the rendition is not that great.

  • There are a lot of repetitions (same words, unnecessary clarification, etc.).
  •  The topic isn’t focused enough.
  • The list could be 10 times reworked and reworded.
  • I really wanted to touch the subject on being memorable but I am not sure I tackled it the right way? Maybe I should just have written another post about it?
  • Also I think it is quite clumsy to try to engage my audience like I did… (See below)

Well at the end of the day (at the end of this day!) my goal isn’t to write EPIC SHIT but just to write. Not to optimize all of the contents but to produce as much as possible.

This I did. EPICALLY WELL.

What about you?

What are the tips on writing you found most insightful? What is a good strategy for a blog post to be memorable?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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TOXIC FRIENDS

Friendship is on top of my list of important things in life.

For the past 10 years I have moved around quite a lot. It forced me to make new friends but also it taught me how important it is to nurture the relationship with my current one. Friendship, as anything precious in life, isn’t granted.

What I am still learning is to be more selective in my choice of friends.

I tend to only see the positive in people and, even when I see the negative parts, I mostly find reasons to explain it and excuse it (for example if someone tend to be rude and I know he has problems in his family).

I also tend to attract what I call now toxic friends.

toxic friends

What is a toxic friend?

  • A toxic friend is at first super friendly and open
  • A toxic friend will very soon tell you about the struggle he is going through
  • A toxic friend will at first listen to your own story and empathy, linking his own history to yours
  • A toxic friend will use you as a support to go through the difficult phases in his life
  • You won’t know when exactly it started, but a toxic friend will take most of your time and energy
  • He will suck your energy using it as a fuel in his own life
  • When you start to feel that this is going too far, the toxic friend won’t hesitate to manipulate you, to ensure he has your attention.
  • One trick for a toxic friend to get hold on you is to create the same unhappiness in your own life
  • A toxic friend will sabotage your own confidence, trash-talk the people you care most about or he’ll constantly call you with his latest drama when he knows you are having a good time (thus making sure you won’t).
  • When and if you confront him and want to talk about the un-balanced relationship you have with him, the toxic friend will always find a way to put the fault back at you.

Such a relationship will always end. Painfully.

So nowadays I try to avoid such people.

What are some of the early signs?

  • Someone who looks bitter or make a lot of negative comments 
  • Someone who try too hard to be friendly and happy
  • Someone who at first doesn’t show any vulnerability
  • Any sign that the new relationship isn’t balance. It could be that she is always the one who wants to meet or that the conversation   is only about one of us
  • If after meeting this person I end up feeling worse instead of better

Do I walk away?

I am still not good to walk away when I meet this kind of people.

My natural instinct is actually to try to help this person.

To empathize with her and show her that all isn’t that bad after all. That I know what he is going through and that if he needs someone to talk to I am here.

I also tend to take responsibility for the unbalanced relationships.

It goes to the basic thought:

‘I am the one who created this situation. It has to. As it’s not the first time it happens and the only common denominator is me’.

To a bit more subtle one:

‘ I created this situation.  I always think that others are more important than me. Their issues are more important, etc.  She was a normal friend and I did withdraw myself from the conversation and made her confide and need me. Now she trusts me and I am about to hurt her and betray this trust by pushing back’.

Like I said, toxic relationships don’t end well…

I don’t think I have any such friends around me at the moment. But next time I will meet one… Well, maybe the very fact that I wrote this down will help me recognize the signs earlier.

And not  engage.

Corollary:

23 Signs You’ve Got A Toxic Friend.

(Listening to:  Birdy)

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SO WHAT IS IT? Positivity? Insensitivity?

sensitivity

not me

I went through a lot recently. A lot of changes in my life. Roller coaster feelings.

I am ok, though. Or else I will be. Thanks for asking.

See what just happened?

  • In my very core is a strong belief that things will turn out ok. That I will face whatever needs to be faced and get out of it bigger, stronger. I don’t think I deny the problems I am facing. I am certainly not avoiding the pain that goes along with it.
  • Also from the outside, I make it sounds like I am untouched. Strong.  

And what are the core mechanisms at play?

  • Compartmentalizing: I think I am pretty good at separating different aspects of my life. Problems at work won’t affect too much my relationship. Or the stress of moving to another country won’t prevent me to be social and meet new people. It helps me a lot as I can still enjoy things happening in my professional life even if some crap is going in my personal one. And vice versa. Or it helps even more when all goes to hell in different parts of my life. These are separated small to mid-size fires. No inferno. 
  • Positive mindset: According to Strength Finder, one of my five top themes is Positivity:

People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

  • High extraversion, low neuroticism: or at least that how I scored on two of the five broad personality domains of the Five-Factor Model. The way I understand it, high extraversion means a great responsiveness to positive emotions. Low neuroticism is a lesser tendency to experience negative feelings. So I guess there is that, too. I guess I am less affected by unpleasant events than other. But like every one I have my limits. Which leads me to:
  • Psychological resilience: This is an interesting one because I have plenty of example of resilience ‘to cope against adversity’ but almost none about coping against stress (which according to wiki goes together as far as psychological resilience goes).
  • Insensitivity: With everything being relative, I surely know they are people more sensitive than me. But I also think that I am  a very sensitive person.  I react strongly to events happening not only to myself but also to others. You might say this contradict at least partly my claim of having low neuroticism. I mean to say that I feel the pain. I feel the sadness. I feel the anguish. And the not-knowing feeling. BUT/AND I admit it takes more of it than for other people before I collapse. I did collapse last year and this year. It was pretty bad. I think other would have collapse before me. Does that mean that I am insensitive? I don’t think so.

Corollary:

I read this article. It is more about how to heal the pain then on how the pain express itself or not in one’s person. But still very relevant. I hope you take something from it.

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SOLITUDE

Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. —Eve Ensler

Corollary:

Picture in the Header.

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March 27, 2013 · 6:09 pm

A LOVE MEMORY- Corollary 2

You know… maybe it doesn’t count for much to you but he is the only man I woke  next to with always a smile on my face.

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A LOVE MEMORY

Love memory

So there is this guy. Or I should say this amazing man.

When I first met him, it was very casual. So when I  realized I had feeling for him, it  swept me out of my feet. I guess I will tell more about our love story in another post.

This posts is about grief. Of what has been. Of what isn’t anymore. Every moment I spent with this guy were so precious. I haven’t got regrets if you are wondering. Because I lived every minute of it fully, without holding back. I totally lived in the present, with no expectation for the future. It was like being in the flow. I kept wondering how on earth could we both get so lucky that we had found each other. At this moment. In this place.

And now I grieve because what was given to me as an unexpected gift just got taken away. One day he was telling he loved me. And the next he shot me off. And never opened up again. Until it hurt so much. To cry in my bed every night because of him. Because I needed him and he couldn’t/wasn’t here for me.

I was the one ending it. I even asked him not to contact me again. No contact. Full STOP.

But I still love him. I still miss him. I still hurt.

Corollary:

To this man:

To the amazing ma IMG00764-20130323-1656

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WHY I WATCH TV SHOWS

I have always loved watching tv as a kid and later as a teenager. It used to drive my mum crazy and she would bug me to go out play in the garden (what?!?). I guess this is indeed pretty usual.

But over the year I stopped being glue to my tv screen and spent more time on my laptop. Browsing and all. Oh and also going out of the house to take nice walk on the lake side!

One little pleasure I didn’t quit is to watch tv show.

Here is a small list of why I enjoy it:

  1. its length: nowadays I don’t necessary have the time to watch a full movie. So a tv show is perfect for a short break
  2. its content: I am just blown away by the imagination that gets into tv shows these days
  3. the continuity: I like to get familiar with the characters and root for them
  4. the novelty: there is always something new happening. I think it’s much more varied than some movie where only one theme is explored (at length!)
  5. Finally it’s a calory-free pleasure 🙂

Corollary:

tvshows

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