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This is What Famous Writers Use to Create Magic

This is What Famous Writers Use to Create Magic

Don’t you get a little bored of your computer screen when you have to type a long piece of text? You find the salvation in browsing through social media websites, but then forget the most important ideas you wanted to write down. Apparently, some of the most famous writers don’t appreciate the distractions of the Internet as much as we commoners do. If Mark Twain were alive, we would probably still see him with his favored notebook.

The word processors on our computers help us get more organized and write without crossing out words or paragraphs. However, it’s not always beneficial to forget about the ideas that seemed wrong; they might lead you to another dimension of the story that could make it deeper and cooler.

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What can we learn from the practices of famous writers?

If you have troubles writing a story, a paper for school, or even a book, any Internet tutorial will tell you the same: plan your ideas, write an outline and stick to it. That strategy may work for school projects, but it would be devastating for real writers.

  • George R.R. Martin, for example, hates outlines. Could you even imagine that level of creativity being suffocated by an outline written before the idea for the next death strikes in?
  • Neil Gaiman is one of our favorite contemporary writers, but his methods of writing are less than contemporary. He would surely do well with a writing app, but he chooses to use a more conventional writing tool that enables him to think more about the sentences before writing them. Truman Capote would approve his method.
  • Stephen King doesn’t find sitting at a computer particularly comfortable, so he uses a fountain pen. Besides allowing him to experiment with positions during writing, the pen also enables him to slow down and be fully focused on the words he writes.
  • We wouldn’t appreciate Twain’s preferred custom-made notebooks if we saw them at a bookstore today, but they sure were inspiring to him.
  • Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, couldn’t decide which writing tool was better, a pencil or a typewriter, so he used them both interchangeably.
  • John Steinbeck had a real addiction to pencils. Today we underestimate the power of a simple Blackwing pencil, but you would surely think of them differently when you realize that he didn’t need anything more to write East of Eden.

This is how our favorite authors do magic.

Famous writers can be controversial and outrageous, but their writing methods seem to have that element of classic simplicity. The greatest writers in history didn’t need anything more than a pencil to create the works we still admire, and today’s authors seem to follow that practice. Why do they keep neglecting all those apps and tools that can make them work much faster and easier? They don’t want “fast and easy” (well okay, maybe Paulo Coelho does).

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What we can learn from their practices is that our creative juices cannot start flowing if we try to force them. A computer program that erases your text if you don’t achieve the goal of writing a certain number of words may make you faster, but will surely take its toll on quality.

Creative writers are not afraid of the mess in their heads; they welcome it with open minds. Did you know how J.K. Rowling drafted the life of our favorite wizard? Hint: it wasn’t in Google Docs. When you go through this infographic and see what tools famous writers used to create some of our favorite books, you will have a different opinion of pens, notebooks, typewriters, and even DOS machines.

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Infographic source: Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

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Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

    Featured photo credit: Ninja Essays via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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