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    1. The Proverbial Pen #3

      Today is day three of my "war against writer's block"! As I keep fighting with my proverbial pen, I hope that some day I'll be able to get out of my block and be able to write some real stuff like...

      Today is day three of my "war against writer's block"!
      As I keep fighting with my proverbial pen, I hope that some day I'll be able to get out of my block and be able to write some real stuff like research paper or novel or story book.

      What I realized today is that Word Power is a very important skill. A writer is essentially a Wordsmith or someone who carves and arranges the words and phrases into sentences, just as a sculptor or carpenter would do with wood or other raw materials. To be a better writer, you must learn to fall in love with words which is probably easier said than done - especially for us non-native speakers!

      Having a regular habit or routine helps with this. Each time you come across a difficult word, you open the dictionary software or app and learn its meaning. It hardly takes a few minutes but it's a very useful skill as each new word you know of acts like a raw material or building block for your writing. Better still, develop linguistics as a hobby as mastery of grammar is equally important and so is learning about how languages, cultures and people basically work and interact at the core.

      Apart from that, noting down right ideas as they come is also very important. For example, the idea about the Wordsmith thing occurred to me yesterday when I was having a cup of tea. I noted it on time (before it could vanish into the depths of that dark matter called subconscious mind and become irretrievable again!), and made a note of that on my computer so that I can write it in today's proverbial pen.

      Even after having these basic tools and ingredients, you may not be able to write anything at all if you lack that focused energy or passion to write about a particular topic - be it a research paper, novel, story book or something else. You need to have that energy to write which I feel I'm lacking right now. I might be able to feel that energy some day as I continue with my battles, at least I hope so! Thanks for reading this and staying with me in these challenging times.

      7 votes
    2. The Proverbial Pen #2

      Thanks a lot for the responses yesterday. I'm glad to be on Tildes, this seems to be a very vibrant and happy community unlike many others! Today is the second post in a series (hopefully) of...

      Thanks a lot for the responses yesterday. I'm glad to be on Tildes, this seems to be a very vibrant and happy community unlike many others! Today is the second post in a series (hopefully) of writing exercises to get rid of my writer's block.


      Today is the second day of my battle against Writer's Block. A very basic question I want to ask is what exactly is writing inspiration and where does it come from? If it comes from within you (as many claim) then why doesn't it always keep flowing like a river, why is it so scarce a resource? The mechanisms of subconscious mind are probably too complex for even the mind itself to work out!

      What I've found though is that it's much easier to do freehand writing or writing nothing in particular (as I'm doing now) but it gets a bit tricky when you want to write about something specific like an article or research paper or a book. That's when you must start worrying about the content quality, research material, story background, plot, etc. But even freehand writing is a great exercise I think to flex your writing muscles at frequent intervals and ensure that they stay in order.

      Of course, other antagonists like lethargy, procrastination, impostor syndrome, self censoring, etc. are always waiting in their closets to jump out and play their part in the battle! These are like natural foes. Whatever you do about them, they'll always lurk back in some form or other given the right environment! Especially in 2022 when oodles of great literature already exist on any given topic, the pressure to perform on a writer is tremendous. Wiser, smarter and more intelligent people than me already seem to have written whatever there is to write about literature, mathematics, computer science, physical sciences, social sciences, etc., what exactly is there left for me to write anyways? So the impostor wonders aloud!

      When all else fails, the pundits ask you to "write about yourself" or "write about your own experiences". That's easy to say actually but my own life has been so mundane and ordinary (just like most other people's, I suppose) that there is hardly anything inspiring or worthwhile to get out of that. They say "open yourself up" but what if there is nothing inside but just a hollow and empty shell when you open up? My life has been one of the most "typical" or "average" as I'd put it whereas writing is supposed to be creative and extra ordinary.

      Another obvious source of writing is reading. They say the more you read, a better writer you'll become as you'll keep adding to the raw material to pick from. I have a good collection of books and I used to read a lot many years ago, an activity which has reduced a lot lately due to work and other factors. Just like writer's block, I also seem to have gotten myself a "reader's block" if there is such a thing!

      As I keep battling with the proverbial pen day after day, I hope something good will come out of it and I might become a better writer than I presently am. Today is just the second day, I just hope I'll be able to keep up with this pace and write daily. Please wish me luck! Thanks for reading.

      5 votes
    3. [Rant] The Great Wall Of Text #1

      From today, I've decided to write at least something every day until the writer's block frees me of its hold. I face this from time to time and don't really understand what to do, there is no cure...

      From today, I've decided to write at least something every day until the writer's block frees me of its hold. I face this from time to time and don't really understand what to do, there is no cure really except hoping that something will happen or some inspiration will strike at some point causing me to write something.

      One of the reasons could be that I'm a computer programmer and mostly blog about technology topics. But programming isn't really a topic or subject on which you can keep churning out rivers of literature, can you? It's a very exact and precise science just like mathematics and I feel most things that must be written about it are already written. In fact, I pretty much feel the same way about any kind of topic, we are literally swimming in oceans of information already! That's probably one of the reasons that keeps me from writing. I don't want to unnecessarily add my useless pennies to great literature contributed by people who are wiser and smarter than me.

      But then the question arises what should I write about or blog about? I can write about nothing in particular and whatever that comes to mind (like I'm doing now) or I can write a research or news article or something. But I don't know how exactly people go about that. Most articles today are opinion pieces anyway and mine will probably be the same. But where do these "opinion writers" get their information from? There have to be some primary or base level sources. What are they? Can you recommend some good ones?

      Another thing that keeps me from writing freely is all the environment you see on the interwebs these days which is just so toxic and discouraging, isn't it? It's not just about having a thick skin anymore but you live in a constant fear of getting canceled for something as trivial as your mere mentioning of some individual (about whom you may not even be fully aware of). I have to think a million times before writing something if this will offend any netizen or not, my guess is that many other writers must be going through the same thing and this is what results in the infamous contemporary expression, Self-Censorship!

      If you're going to constantly self-censor yourself and kill many great ideas when they're just in their infancy, I don't think you'll be left with a lot of creative stuff to write and you may not even feel like writing anymore. Self-Censorship beyond a basic extent (like filtering of abusive words and phrases, etc.) is counter-productive and should be highly discouraged in my humble opinion.

      Other natural antagonists like lethargy, laziness, procrastination, etc. also need to be blamed, of course! Sometimes, I don't find the motivation to read or do further research on a topic. Without reading, you can't get enough material to write, a good writer must be an avid book worm also. I feel sure I can contribute a lot to the literary world some day and I've decided to keep battling with my proverbial pen (actually the keyboard!) until the day it happens.

      I think that's enough for today, might come up with another great wall of text tomorrow! Sorry if I wasted your time.

      9 votes
    4. October Tildes Writing Club

      My further apologies to anyone who has looked forward to another Writing Club while I was busy running from a cruel summer. Finally stationary, I send this from a bewitched region. I've wandered...

      My further apologies to anyone who has looked forward to another Writing Club while I was busy running from a cruel summer. Finally stationary, I send this from a bewitched region.

      I've wandered into a church of horrors recently, at 10 pm, completely ignorant of the liturgical occasion for it standing open and illuminated at that time of night. An elfin woman in a sweatshirt spotted me and my wife as we took in a St. Sebastian statue.

      "Come take your photos of this!" she said, and drew us toward a glowing pit under the tabernacle. Besides a priest scribbling behind a cracked door we were the only souls stirring. I kept him in view as we climbed the steps to the high altar.

      "Is this OK... are we OK here?" asked my wife, in sparse Castilian.

      "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," replied the churchwoman. I'm learning that such verbal generosity is typical here.

      What she led us to was the sacred center of the church, the relic over which swarmed a hundred angel heads, pewter candelabras, attendant saints and golden aureole. But they were above ground. Beneath the floor it stood, lit extremely: a worn, worn, sea-washed stone, about the size of a cocooned 10-year old child. Coins rested in a depression at its crown. It bore a jumble of an inscription in a font you could count on James Cameron to pick if he had to display an "ancient curse." What or whom the monolith hallowed was beyond our powers to decipher or the churchwoman's to explain. But it seemed older than the cross barely scratched into it. Somehow I knew it had stood apart for millennia. It was the sick feeling it provoked in me, the reflexive reverence it forced from someone. Down the aisle a Mater Dolorosa wept tears like glue beads into her properly black Spanish dress. St. Lucy served her eyeballs on a platter. An underlighted St. Iago trampled moors unlucky enough to have been caught inside the glass case with him and his white charger. The viscera of belief.

      We left without understanding, and the lady promptly shut the doors to us and the night.

      The stone might have moored a ship purported to have carried St. Iago. Its letters might signify a dedication to Neptune. It may have come from a flooded temple.

      Surely these are elements for an eerie tale, but this was merely my birthday on a full-moon night.

      And now I would really like to read some Halloween writing. Please plan on sharing some short, tense, spooky, autumn-scented, decay-touched words with the writing club. Due on October 31.

      10 votes
    5. Do you have any advice for me to overcome perfectionism as a writer?

      I'm asking specifically about writing fiction. I need to write a lot in a short time. I'm a perfectionist -- a therapist once called me obsessive. Sometimes I spend hours on just a few paragraphs....

      I'm asking specifically about writing fiction.

      I need to write a lot in a short time. I'm a perfectionist -- a therapist once called me obsessive. Sometimes I spend hours on just a few paragraphs. I eventually make good paragraphs but that is not very productive. Deadlines fly by, I become anxious and stressed. I wish to write more, even if it's not as good. Better to have something to edit and correct than nothing at all.

      I reckon that a book is not made of 100% perfect phrases. At some point you gotta lift the house, even it is not as pretty as you want. I want to experiment with writing more freely, finding ways to overcome my self-criticism and impostor syndrome. I see people writing 3000 words a day... maybe I don't need to write that much, but I envy them. I often don't write more than 500 words per day. This is just not working for me as a professional writer.

      Maybe I could try something like stream of consciousness. But I don't know. Looking for advice. Not necessarily on literary techniques, but also on how to put myself in a position to avoid self-recrimination, let things flow a bit more. I'm looking for a better psychological outlook. Right now I edit my stuff so aggressively that I transform pages into tweets.

      7 votes
    6. Writing Club #3—"Madness" (Submissions)

      Shakespeare's birthday is observed today. Thank you, verily, for sharing your writing! Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers. Here are the...

      Shakespeare's birthday is observed today. Thank you, verily, for sharing your writing!

      Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers.
      Here are the guidelines, again.

      8 votes
    7. Writing a best man speech for my brother’s wedding, any advice?

      I’m writing the best man speech for my brother’s upcoming wedding. I haven’t been to many weddings so to be honest I’m not super familiar with the format of this speeches, or things I should be...

      I’m writing the best man speech for my brother’s upcoming wedding. I haven’t been to many weddings so to be honest I’m not super familiar with the format of this speeches, or things I should be sure to mention (I.e. things like “be sure to thank xyz person”). I’m asking some family members but thought I should cast a wider net and ask here too. Any advice for writing this type of thing? Any memorable ones, good or bad, to emulate or avoid?

      18 votes
    8. Writing Club #3—"Madness" (April 23)

      Rounds one and two of the Tildes Writing Club have been smashing, if small-scale, successes. In the interest of luring out a few lurkers with a timely provocation, I want to establish this month's...

      Rounds one and two of the Tildes Writing Club have been smashing, if small-scale, successes. In the interest of luring out a few lurkers with a timely provocation, I want to establish this month's theme by fiat.

      What do you have to say about madness? Your contribution can resemble a clinician's assessment, a confession, a polemic, an absinthe specter, the cry of the cuckoo, the diagnosis offered by Major Clipton (but hopefully of greater length), or a 1980s ska band. That is, whether you take the word to be romantic, offensive, biographical, inspirational, or risible, take it as inspiration for your writing this month.


      Just follow these easy guidelines:

      Your submission can be prose or poetry of any reasonable length. Less than 7,000 words, surely.

      Watch for the April 23 submissions thread to appear. Reply to it with a link to your work, which may be housed anywhere you like, including on Tildes. Prioritize venues that are not known to be aggressively anti-privacy (e.g., Google Docs). You may provide questions for readers.

      You must provide feedback on 3 submissions if you are posting a submission. Only one needs to be a substantial critique. If you see a post without feedback, consider giving it preference in the order of your responses. No one likes to be left hanging.

      You don't have to follow the theme. Your detective fiction about beaver glands is welcome, too.
      Feel free to post questions or comments.

      12 votes
    9. Writing Club #2 Submissions

      It's nearly spring (in one hemisphere) and time to share our first longer pieces! Whether or not you've been inspired by this month's theme of liminality, I hope you've found this transitional...

      It's nearly spring (in one hemisphere) and time to share our first longer pieces! Whether or not you've been inspired by this month's theme of liminality, I hope you've found this transitional time a pithy precipice.

      Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers.
      Here are the guidelines, again. I applaud everyone who submits for taking part in something new.

      12 votes
    10. Writing Club #1 Submissions

      Valentine's Day Edition Optional Themes: love / unlove / hate / red / heart / viscera Submit your "Quick 'Ficts' and Poems" below! Very relaxed rules apply to this first round. Basically, just...

      Valentine's Day Edition

      Optional Themes: love / unlove / hate / red / heart / viscera


      Submit your "Quick 'Ficts' and Poems" below! Very relaxed rules apply to this first round. Basically, just post something short. And remember to leave feedback for at least two pieces if you're submitting (but more is welcome). You don't need to submit to leave comments. Looking forward to reading!

      14 votes
    11. Call For Submissions 2/14—Quick Ficts and Poems

      You are invited to cut right to the heart of things for the first Tildes Writing Club event. Let's road test the club with brief fiction or verse. Got a sonnet that needs airing? Want to weave a...

      You are invited to cut right to the heart of things for the first Tildes Writing Club event. Let's road test the club with brief fiction or verse. Got a sonnet that needs airing? Want to weave a brief spell and dip before the magic fades? Let's read it!


      Length: less than 500 words of prose, or 30 or fewer lines of poetry.
      Theme: Optional. But if you're in search of inspiration, @acdw suggests you work with this palette: love/unlove/hate/red/heart/viscera.
      Guidelines: Post your short work in the submissions topic, which will open on 2/14. Throughout the next couple of weeks, leave feedback for at least two other submissions. Brief rules for a brief, trial-run writing event. To opine on the rules that are taking shape for 3/1, reply here.

      11 votes
    12. Writing Club Theme Discussion

      Let's discuss themes for our March 1 Writing Club submissions. (If prompts or themes aren't your thing, you may write what you like and post when the submission topic opens.) Feel free to suggest...

      Let's discuss themes for our March 1 Writing Club submissions. (If prompts or themes aren't your thing, you may write what you like and post when the submission topic opens.) Feel free to suggest a prompt (a scenario, dilemma, or background), a theme, or an ambiguous title to jump-start writing efforts. What do you want to suggest?

      8 votes
    13. Writing Club Organizational Thread

      All writers are invited to take part in the newborn Tildes Writing Club! Let’s let the club organize as it grows, but as a starting point, I present loose, inclusive guidelines formed from the...

      All writers are invited to take part in the newborn Tildes Writing Club! Let’s let the club organize as it grows, but as a starting point, I present loose, inclusive guidelines formed from the meeting of ideas in the last thread. (I was going to list aspects as separate replies for easier picking apart, but I guess I can’t make separate replies to the same post.) Feel free call out an aspect to compare it with a different approach.

      Schedule

      A thread will surface every three weeks inviting you to post your work. You may post your piece to the thread at any time before the next appears, but you risk missing out on readers. Finish and submit your critiques before the next recurring thread. (I declare this quite confidently for someone with no idea how recurring threads work.) Should the inaugural submission thread open on March 1?

      Sharing

      Reply to the recurring submission thread with a link to your work, which may be housed anywhere you like, including on Tildes. Prioritize venues that are not known to be aggressively anti-privacy (e.g., Google Docs). You may share a selection from a larger work, but your submission should not exceed 7,000 words. Shorter by half that is likelier to be read. There will be no minimum length. You may provide questions for readers in hidden expandable text, if you like.

      Feedback

      Critique participation will operate on the honor system. When submitting, you are encouraged to provide meaningful feedback to three pieces each cycle. These will be self-assigned. To assign yourself a piece, post a reply to it as placeholder. Assign yourself to pieces that haven’t yet been taken before signing on as a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th reader. That is, while there are still pieces without assigned readers (which will be apparent due to the lack of replies), take one of those first to ensure everyone is getting read. Naturally, you may leave critiques or comments in a free and unregulated fashion if you aren’t submitting work for critique this round. I suggest leaving feedback in the reply you created as placeholder. Others may have better ideas.

      Themes / Forms

      Hopefully, taking part in the club will motivate you to produce new writing. The community will suggest themes as inspiration after the posting of a submission thread. These could be chosen democratically, or by a rotating theme-warden, but should be mooted outside the submissions thread. I prefer themes to be extremely flexible, rather than a prompt: “Orange; Breathless; Common Parlance;” instead of “On Tuesday you discover the ability to control trains with your mind.” Submissions do not need to follow the theme. We might decide to have a round dedicated to poetry, but then again, why not gather an assortment of forms and genres?

      Showcase and ‘Zine

      As motivation for writers, and to benefit the wider Tildes community, I would like to see a periodic showcase thread highlighting the best of our work. It makes sense to post this separately, rather than just by tagging exemplary pieces, because most of us will want to improve our submissions with feedback in mind. @acdw has the idea of organizing a ‘zine to further showcase our best work. This, it seems to me, suggests wonderful opportunities for collaboration with visual artists. The schedule for both of these will have to depend on activity in the club.

      Spirit

      I hope for the club to be egalitarian, advanced by participants with good ideas and a flair for organization. Despite my failings, I hope to be such. To the degree that I can direct the energy of the group, I would like to give the following precept: Be generous. Writers, be a gracious guest in the minds of your readers. Be generous in your criticism. Don't abstain from lauding your favorites--that is important. At the same time, recognize that you compliment writing when you take it seriously enough to voice serious problems you may wish to see it avoid. Interpret criticism in the same spirit of generosity.

      24 votes
    14. A Writing Club

      I'd like to gauge interest in a writing group. The quality of expression I find at Tildes and the nature of some of the Timasomo projects prompt me to wonder if maybe there aren't enough...

      I'd like to gauge interest in a writing group. The quality of expression I find at Tildes and the nature of some of the Timasomo projects prompt me to wonder if maybe there aren't enough regularly-writing members to form a circle for critique and support. I have some experience teaching, but never have run a group. I'm a committed generalist--I don't think I would want to limit it to a particular form or genre.

      Anyone interested? Have you taken part in one before / belong to one now?

      31 votes