If you’re like me, writing can be addicting; I’m in the final phase of two book manuscripts, and when I’m on a roll I can write 10+ hours in a day. When I have such long work days, it’s important to change gears, change pace, and get away from my desk. Here’s a great list of ideas to shake things up! I’ve done quite a few things on this list already (albeit not in the same weekend!), so I can testify to the fact that they refresh tired brains, eyes and hands; they can give a burst of creative energy the next time I sit down to work. Whatever you do in life, remember to take some time out once in a while; God told us to take one day a week to rest, because I think he understands our tendencies toward burnout, workaholism and burning the candle at both ends…
Originally posted on Stephen Halpin Life Coach:
Welcome to another Friday. If you are one of those people who has every minute of your weekend planned then this post isn’t for you. However, if you get half way through your weekend and think “I should really do something this weekend.” This post if for you. Part of living a full life is taking the time to engage yourself in new and exciting things. Enjoy these 26 things to do this weekend.
Attend a life theater performance.
Beach weather will be gone before you know it. Head to the beach.
Clean out your garage, closet or desk.
Dine at a restaurant you have never tried before.
Entertain a family you have been meaning to get to know better.
Farmers Markets are great places to get fresh vegetables and plants.
Gym is usually empty on weekends. Have a great extra workout.
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Recently I asked my Facebook connections if they could help me with a Latin phrase; the phrase has to do with the computation of days in the Julian calendar (calends, ides, nones, etc.). Here is my exact post:
“Calling all Romance Language speakers (French, Italian, Spanish, etc.): Does the following phrase (any of its words) render something similar in your language, and if so, what do those words mean? The phrase is in Latin, “Principium mensis cujusque vocato kalendas” I understand the first and last words, but am curious about the three middle words… Thanks for any help.”
Quite a discussion ensued; but I still don’t know if there is an etymological equivalent or relative to “cujusque.” One person suggested the connection of mensis (month) with the medical term – which I should have thought of as the German slang term is “Mens” for women’s monthly cycle. But all other entries tried to help me with the first and last word, and I spent more time explaining my request than I saved by asking in the first place.
This is a trend I’ve noticed on the rise on Facebook in particular, but I am aware that it’s also happening across Cyberland; too often people skim over a text and assume they’ve understood it well enough to make an informed contribution to a discussion. It’s harmless when it only has to do with topics of grammar and language; but when it also enters the formation process of people’s opinions in the political or social arenas, society beware. I usually ignore such discussions with a healthy dose of eye-rolling; but sometimes I have to intervene in the propagation of half-baked ignorance, or I won’t be able to sleep at night.
The illustration is a perfect example of this vague exactitude; people took the time to reply, but they did not take the time to properly read, to inform themselves of the actual task at hand. I have only two words to add: STOP IT!
“If you invent two or three people and turn them loose in your manuscript, something is bound to happen to them – you can’t help it; and then it will take you the rest of the book to get them out of the natural consequences of that occurrence, and so first thing you know, there’s your book all finished up and never cost you an idea.” Mark Twain
As a writer I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve any of my skills, be they technical, linguistic, goal-oriented (such as the skills it takes to publish a book), or basic. Listening falls into the latter category; it’s something all of us do, yet all of us can improve on. I don’t think I need to mention the fact that we are a generation on information overload; media screams at us to get our attention, whether through the use of power-punching, gut-wrenching headlines, or power-words written in ALL CAPS! with the appropriate punctuation, or flashing ads that give us no peace until we either turn them off or leave the website they’ve invaded. Adds flash at us constantly whether on TV, in shops, on the internet, or driving down the motorway. Eventually we become numb and stop listening. We put in our ear-buds, turn on a song of our choice and try to tune out the rest of the world, at least for a moment.
By improving listening, I am not implying that we toss out our MP3 players and force ourselves to listen to everything in case we miss something important. We must all use discretion about where our “focus energy” goes. But by improving our listening, we can begin to hear the quieter, more subtle elements; we can focus our ears and minds to perceive things that might be more worthwhile than the noise that vies for our attention. Conscious listening creates understanding.
I recently listened to a TED talk by Julian Treasure on five exercises to improve listening; I share them with you here; click on the image above if you’d like to watch the talk yourself:
1) Silence: For at least three minutes a day, try to find a place of complete silence (if not possible, at least aim for very quiet). It helps to recalibrate your ears, so that you can actually hear the quieter things once again.
2) Mixer: In a noisy environment, whether a café or sitting by a stream, practice focusing your ears on one sound, then another; It will improve the quality of your listening. I use this technique with singing students; before they begin rehearsing with a song we will analyse and dissect it instrument by instrument, verse by verse, vocal by vocal. The more they become aware of this process, the better they will understand how their vocals fit into the bigger picture as both a wind- and stringed instrument.
3) Savouring: There’s a “hidden choir” all around you; focusing on such mundane sounds as the dish washer or the coffee machine can reveal rhythms and build an appreciation of the simpler things in life. Sound technicians for films use this as their greatest tool; because they’ve trained themselves in this area, they know they can combine the squishing of an orange, the grating of a cinder block across a corrugated iron sheet and the distortion of their vacuum cleaner’s sound to come up with a monster ala the Balrog of Lord of the Rings, or scraping keys along a piano wire to land Dr. Who’s TARDIS.
4) Listening Positions: This is the idea that you can shift your position (“level” of listening) according to what you’re listening to: active/passive, reductive/expansive, critical/empathetic. These adjust certain filters that we all have, such as culture, language, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations and intentions, which increasingly focus our listening from all “sounds” down to things we specifically listen to.
5) RASA: An acronym for Receive (i.e. paying attention to the person), Appreciate (giving verbal feedback such as small sounds of agreement or interest), Summarize (feedback of what you’ve understood), and Ask (ask questions afterward). Practicing RASA will improve not only how we listen, but our retention of information.
Listening is one of our five senses, and one that’s worth exploring in writing; when a reader can become absorbed in the sensations of a scene – hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling and tasting the environment through well-chosen words – they will be invested in the story, and care about what happens next.