Secondhand Inspiration

Develop Your New Reading List!

It’s getting toward the end of 2017. December is an awesome time for readers – it’s late enough in the year that all of the “best books of the year” lists start to roll in. I use this time to scan through those lists for books I might find interesting. Then I compile a catalog of books to read in the next year.

Hands down the best list is from Largehearted Boy (David Gutowski). Annually he aggregates all the online year-end book lists and places them in a single post on his blog. As new lists appear, he adds them to this master list, updating it daily.

Add a little energy to your upcoming New Year’s Resolution to read more – survey these lists and develop your own personal list of new books to check out in 2018.

http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2017/11/online_best_of_75.html

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How To Be Creative.

So you want to be more creative in art, writing, work, or whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.

  1. Ignore others. The more original your ideas, the less good advice other folks will be able to provide. Plus, people tend to naysay and undermine new ideas, whether out of jealousy or fear. If you truly have a new idea, it’s often best to cultivate it internally before getting the opinions of others.

  2. Your idea doesn’t have to be huge – it just has to invoke a change in the world. The two are not necessarily the same, even though we often assume they are.

  3. Put in the hours and effort. Doing anything worthwhile takes an extra push. What separates the success stories from failed people is time, effort, and stamina.

  4. Everyone is born creative. We all doodled with crayons in kindergarten. We imagined impossible things and were happy doing so. In high school, society stole our markers and construction paper and replaced it with algebra and textbooks….and then our workplaces replaced them with mundane memos and company policies. Blah. Deciding that you want to be creative is just you taking back your crayons – the crayons you should have been able to keep all along.

  5. Don’t stand out from the crowd. Avoid the crowd altogether. Your plan to showcase your creativity needs to be as creative as your work itself. Don’t blindly follow the same methods others follow just because it’s “what you’re supposed to do.” Find your own path, even if it I winding.

  6. If you accept rejection, it cannot hurt you. You will hear “no” often. If you hear it enough, you’ll become numb to it. You might hear no because people don’t understand your ideas, or what you are doing is so different that they think it must fail. Accept rejection as collateral damage. Their rebuffs won’t sting for long if you are certain you’re destined for greater things.

  7. The world is changing. Your creative vision needs to change as well.

  8. Sing in your own voice. People can recognize a knockoff a mile away. Once you’ve been pigeonholed as a bootleg version of someone else, you’ll never crawl out from under that label.

  9. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It will arrive, eventually. You’re better off not pushing the deal. If you really want to write but it’s not coming easy, go read for a while. If you really want to draw but have no ideas, scroll through some artistic photos. Your body requires food to have enough energy to workout. Similarly, reading or studying the creative work of others can fuel your own creativity.

  10. Always create from the heart.

These creative tenets seem to work for me. Maybe one or two of these ideas will ring true for you. Safe travels as you embark on your creative journey!

100 Books a Year? You Can Do It!

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I was proud that I’ve read 25 books so far this year. That was until I read Srinivas Rao’s article “How to Read 100 Books a Year.” Now I feel like an underachiever.

But seriously, this article does contain some solid strategies on how to hit the lofty goal of devouring 100 books in a year…and consequently reap the benefits of becoming a more interested, cultured person. For me, reading the work of others is key to me making strides in my own writing practice, so I will be employing these suggestions to step my reading game up in the future.

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/12283-how-to-read-100-books-in-a-year

The Poem as Political Protest.

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The most powerful poems can carry a political message by re-enlivening and reactivating language. The idea of a poem as a vehicle for political protest is discussed over at the Bacopa Literary Review Editor's Blog in an insightful post. There is also a brief mention of my poem "This Is Not a Protest Poem,” which will appear in the October edition of the Bacopa Literary Review. Check it out!

http://bacopaliteraryreview.blogspot.com/2017/08/this-poem-is-not-political-protest-or.html

What Inspires Writers?

The answer varies from writer to writer, but you will see some commonalities in their answers if you read “Inspiration, procrastination and the importance of pens: how writers write” over at The Spectator. In this article, Sam Leith curates a sample of different writers’ routines. A very interesting read. So what inspires you in your creative endeavors?

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/08/inspiration-procrastination-and-the-importance-of-pens-how-writers-write/

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Are you looking for inspiration?

Well, you are not the only one. Whether you are writing a novel, blogging, working on a news article, or some other creative idea yet unknown, you may need a push in the right direction. We all feel the need for inspiration at some point.

So check out this article over at the Grammarly blog: A Colossal List of Creators to Inspire Your Writing. “Grammarly hunted down all the best blogs about writing inspiration, writing as a job, writing fiction, and working with social media, content marketing, journalism, and design—plus a few bonuses about creativity in general.”

In other words, bookmark this link for the next time you are running short on inspiration. You’ll be glad you did.

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/colossal-list-creators/?utm_source=Facebook_org&utm_content=&utm_campaign=Blog_Lifestyle

How to Avoid Perfectionism and Handle Haters.

A confident writer cannot indulge in people pleasing, pursuing perfection, or all swallowing the negative poison that haters try to pass off as positive feedback.

Anne Lamont gets it – and you can get it, too, by reading and internalizing some of her sound advice found in this article: The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters: Anne Lamott on Priorities and How We Keep Ourselves Small by People-Pleasing.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/16/anne-lamott-people-pleasing-haters-trolls/

Suggested Reading.

In case you didn’t know, April is National Poetry Month. There are many ways to observe this celebration of verse, but the easiest thing you can do is simply read some poetry.

So this is the perfect time to add some new poetic titles to your “books to be read” list. Check out this diverse list of “15 New Poetry Collections To Read During National Poetry Month” as a starting point. Happy National Poetry Month!

https://www.bustle.com/p/15-new-poetry-collections-to-read-during-national-poetry-month-47908

Validation.

If you’re a writer, you should write every day.

That’s a great theory, but it doesn’t account for the ebb & flow of daily life, natural fluctuations in energy, and that there are some days you won’t have inspiration.

I usually come down on myself during those days when I don’t have the spark to write. That’s why Annie Scholl’s post at Brevity titled “Maybe You Don’t Need to Write Every Day” speaks to me. It has me rethinking the unnatural act of forcing myself to write when “it” really isn’t there. Worth the read.

https://brevity.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/maybe-you-dont/

Inspire Creativity.

Like many creatives, I run into moments when I am just fresh out of ideas. The muse doesn’t always show up when I need it to…which can be frustrating and a detriment to productivity.

Never fear – the Grammarly Blog has produced a simple list of 21 Ways to Inspire Creativity When You’re Out of Ideas. None of these ideas are groundbreaking, but they are helpful in their simplicity…low-hanging fruit ideas that you can fall back on to hopefully spark up the fires of your creativity when your usual inspiration is just not there.

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/ways-to-inspire-creativity/?utm_source=Facebook_org&utm_content=motivation%2Cdrawing%2Cwitty%2Chelpful%2Cblog&utm_campaign=Blog_Lifestyle

Insults.

I appreciate witty retorts and insults. Quick responses are needed to survive in life.

I believe you can tell a lot about a person from the way he or she puts down another person. Similarly, you can tell a lot about a writer from the way he or she insults a fellow writer. What does a particular writer object to? What makes him this another writer is a hack? What does she value? What are their opinions about grammar and style? You can get that and more just from reading or hearing a single quick put down.

That’s why I found this infographic from AussieWriter.com to be interesting. It compiles some famous insults hurled at one writer by another. Reading these, I can only imagine the shade these writers would have thrown at each other on social media if it existed back then!

https://www.aussiewriter.com/blog/famous-writers-insults/

Best of the Net.

I’m a firm believer of incremental improvement towards bigger goals. That said, the only ways I know to improve as a writer are by writing…and reading the work of others.

So I’ve been spending some time digesting the “Best of the Net 2016” as presented by Sundress Publications. Why not read and possibly learn from some of the best writing in the past year? My intentions are twofold…I want to read some great writing, but I also have a stretch goal of trying to make the Best of the Net list for 2017. Studying these works might give me the insight to make that goal reality.

There is some amazing work that may inspire you…and also is simply enjoyable to read! Check it out…

http://www.sundresspublications.com/bestof/

Breaking New Territory.

I found this article about nine women nonfiction pioneers, including Roxane Gay, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Eula Biss, to be inspirational. I’ve been experimenting with writing more nonfiction lately, especially as my personal muse has seemingly drifted from poetry towards more prose.

Not only did this article give me some candidates for my books to read list, it was also interesting to learn about women writers who are challenging convention and exploring new territory. I want to find my angle and do something unconventional like these authors have in order to find my niche in nonfiction. After all, we all have a story to tell…

http://www.bustle.com/articles/150778-9-women-writers-who-are-breaking-new-nonfiction-territory

When You Cannot Write a Single Word.

In Writers Recommend, poet Lo Kwa Mei-en describes what she does when she cannot write a single word:


"I have taken to picking up a book from my past that I have been hungering to reread and typing it out word for word, at a speed slow enough to feel the words relating to each other and hear new things in their music that I had not heard before. I will retype another's book until I feel love and not despair." 

http://www.pw.org/content/lo_kwa_meien