on writing

creativity

How to write a story or fiction?

I have read Stephen King’s memoir, which is about the craft of writing. I love it from start to end. It’s like listening to a piece of good music. Melodic, beautiful, and entertaining. I cherry-pick 3 quotes from the book, to sum up On Writing for you to have a quick read.

  • Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.
  • The practice is invaluable (and should feel good, really not like practice at all) and that honesty is indispensable. Skills in the description, dialogue, and character development all boil down to seeing or hearing clearly and then transcribing what you see or hear with equal clarity (and without using a lot of tiresome, unnecessary adverbs).
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Show the story: narration, description, and dialogue

I have jotted down the points to note, for you to keep in mind while writing a story. These are the writing tips from Stephen King and his ways of writing fictions.

  • Ask “what if” to build the narrative
  • The good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else
  • The use of simile and other figurative language is one of the chief delights
  • You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have resonance and realism
  • The basic rule of vocabulary is to use the first word that comes to your mind if it is appropriate and colorful
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice
  • Avoid adverbs
  • Leave it for at least 6 weeks before editing
  • Check the spellings, unclear pronouns
  • Look for what you meant and reinforce that meaning

Add metaphors or similes like a pro

I enjoy reading Stephen’s unique metaphors or similes, which he is good at using so as to enrich his writing. Here’re some examples:

  • Writers are carpenters; writing skills are tools
  • As your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction
  • I believe stories are found things, like fossils

How do you like it if I show you a metaphor source which you can access online and get many good references? Dr. Mardy has created one for us, for free!

Happy reading!

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Comedy writing

creativity

How to write comedy?

If you’re wondering how to write funny or you’re getting stuck on writing, go through the quick summary from Writing Comedy, which may help you break out of the prison in your mind:

Start writing what you want to write, what amuses you. Then learn to modify and improve it to reach a bigger audience.

Get inspired:

  • Work with other people 
  • Stay up to date with popular culture
  • Have an opinion on everything
  • Be a comedy consumer (watch sitcoms, comedy movies)
  • Keep note of funny materials 
  • Anarchy: let yourself be anarchic and childlike, have crazy ideas like “The modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift (a satirical essay suggesting that problem of famine in Ireland could be solved by poor people selling their babies to rich landlords to eat.)
  • Freethinking
  • People watching
  • Daydream
  • Negative emotions like frustrations of everyday life, which are great materials
  • Gather comedy materials from socializing with friends, family, and all sorts of media
  • Networking (find publisher, editor)

Create incongruity:

  • Opposites (funerals and weddings; big and small)
  • Misdirection (a twist in the end)
  • Misunderstanding
  • Exaggeration
  • Double entendre
  • Rule of three

Comedy format:

  1. Set up
  2. Small laughs
  3. Punchline (the surprise)

Create comedy characters: 

  • Deadpan/jester
  • Fish out of water/neurotic
  • Innocent/know-it-all
  • Klutz/loser
  • Social climber/vulgarian
  • What’s the characteristics and desires of characters?
  • Give the character some sort of conflict—inner conflict, conflict with other people and conflict with society
  • Give crisis and obstacles to characters

Write it:

  • Set time aside for writing 
  • Show in a comedic way, don’t tell 
  • Get personal (insults, embarrassment)
  • Use specific vocabulary
  • Don’t be too direct
  • Read your work out loud to feel the rhythm (pause before punchline)

Edit it:

  • Edit the draft
  • Mark the laughs
  • Fine-tune the ending 

 

In short, entertain yourself first, get the joke done, and laugh out loud.

Creative doing!

writing style

creativity

How to craft your writing?

If you would like to craft your writing, reading The Element of Style by William Stunk Jr. and E.b. White is a must. This September, I have been reading books about the craft of writing. I would like to recommend The Elements of Style. This is a good book about grammar rules and the style of writing, even Stephen King has highly recommended it as a good one without bullshit.

I’ll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style.

— Stephen King 

Here are some of the suggestions, for helping writers or bloggers to develop their own style:

  • write in a way that comes naturally
  • write with nouns and verbs, not with adjective and adverb
  • revise and rewrite

For more tips on how to craft, check it out and dive in.

The writing style of great writers

Ernest Hemingway’s simple and succinct writing style is the opposite of James Joyce’ complex and stream-of-consciousness writing. Style is like beauty. It’s subjective and has various ways. Writing style is your identity. It’s a part of you. So the takeaway point here is to write what you know and be yourself. That’s what Hemingway and Joyce did.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

BASICS TO CREATIVE

creativity

 

Why I love The Flower Recipe Book

I love this book because of three reasons. One, the recipe concept is cool as arranging flowers is exactly like cooking food. After learning the basics and ingredients, you can get your hands dirty and create your own style. Two, the flower arrangements in the book have a strong aesthetic sense and I can’t take my eyes off it. Three, this is a perfect flower arrangement book for beginners. The content is pretty practical and great for beginners who are looking for the basics and are interested in learning more about various kinds of flowers and primary tools like a pair of decent flower scissors.

How to arrange flowers like a pro

The Flower Recipe Book has inspired me to create my own style of flower arrangement which I have created an Instagram account @plantplaylist to record my works. It was definitely a fun flower project as I can practice selecting flowers and foliage, putting them together in harmony, connecting with friends. I become more sensitive to colors, textures, and forms. The fascinating world of flowers simply amuses my eyes and makes me happy! It’s colorful, beautiful and joyful.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 11.06.55 PM.pngArrange some flowers with your creativity today.

Creative doing!

think big

creativity

3 Things to Take Away from The Magic of Thinking Big

 

Action cures fear

The book The Magic of Thinking Big had a positive impact on my life. Why? It helped me to make a breakthrough: from unable to swim to love surfing! I thought I couldn’t swim in the past as I was afraid of deep water. I failed to swim even I had learned twice. I figured out the main reasons are lack of practice and fear of drowning. So I tried a new way suggested in the book. Thinking big. I envisioned myself to become a cool surfer and go surfing around the world to have fun, enjoy nature and life. Having this big picture in mind, I was motived to practice swimming in the pool and the sea in summer. Massive actions really cured fear. The more I swam in deep water, the less fear I had. My strong desire for surfing made me do what I fear. When I was more confident to swim, I started to learn surfing with a friend. We go surfing on Sundays when the weather’s nice and waves are good. I’m looking forward to a surf camp in Australia in December this year!big-ocean-wave-under-blue-sky.jpg

Believe it can be done

What is the size of your thinking? What would you like to think big for your life? David J. Schwartz, the author of The Magic of Thinking Big encourages you to think as big as you can. The first step is to believe. Here’re some of his big thoughts about belief: When you believe, your mind finds ways to do. You can discover solutions to personal problems if you believe you can. Belief releases creative powers. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Be progressive

Next, is to make it happen in a progressive way. I like a story he shares about being progressive. A female entrepreneur questions herself: “How can I do it better today?” Her answer is a weekly improvement program. All during the week, she made notes and jot down ideas as to how she can improve her business in 4 elements: customers, employees, merchandise, and promotion. At the end of the week, she reviews the ideas and figures out the solutions. We can set up a weekly progress check on the things that are important to us too, such as fitness, relationships, finance, etc.

The audiobook version is simply worth listening if you haven’t tried.

Creative doing!

 

 

 

Creative & meditation

creativity

meditation-and-yoga-in-nature_4460x4460.jpg

Why meditation boost creativity?

Have you ever got stuck while writing or generating ideas? I always do. For many creatives, meditation is a good option to foster creativity and I’m interested in why it can do so. For me, toilets and parks are the places where good thoughts come to me naturally because I feel liberating while having a shower or detoxifying in the toilet, and I’m relaxed while walking in the green park. Do I have to work in toilets and parks? Yes and no. Yes for parks. Toilets? No. So how about meditation? How does it work for creativity?

To my surprise, there are so many different kinds of meditation and they vary in results. For now, I only focus on two kinds that are most relevant to creativity — Open Monitoring Meditation(OMM) and Transcendental Meditation(TM).

Scientists think…

It’s the non-judgmental attitude

What do scientists say about OMM? It basically trains our mind to be in the present moment by simply stopping to react to and judge what’s happening now and paying passive attention to our breathing, sensations, and thoughts. This can develop awareness of our experiences instead of immediate emotional reaction towards what’s going on in our mind including our past and projection about the future.1  As a result, with this non-judgmental attitude towards our thoughts and emotions, we are primed to be open-minded and come up with new ideas or perspectives. 

Artists feel…

Many artists practice TM, which is a simple effortless meditation technique that uses a mantra as a tool to let the mind settle down naturally. Just like diving in the wavy surface of the ocean and then diving deep to the bottom of the ocean for stillness. The ultimate is to transcend thought. Let’s take David Lynch, a famous filmmaker, as an example. He practices TM for big fishes, his unique ideas for films. He believes TM is a way for world peace and he even established David Lynch Foundation for children to learn TM. He is truly an advocate of TM.

Deep rest and inner peace

In the book Catching The Big Fish, David Lynch puts it beautifully: “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and purer. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” What I learn from David from his book is that when you are in a state of deep rest and feeling peaceful within, negativity and fear go away completely. This is a turning point in creation. And this is a beautiful state. Peace of mind leads to creativity where you can create freely with enjoyment.

Liberating unique self-expression

The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life is a book that records the creative journey of a photographer who creates works with meditation. He points out that you feel the world with strong emotions towards certain things that resonate with you particularly but may not with others. So your way of experiencing the world is unique. Self-expression is what you are trying to show this unique experience. It’s your experience. It’s your thing. Creativity lies within you. All you have to do is to be yourself.

The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you.

I meditate…

It’s awkward sometimes

I have tried guided meditation at night before sleep for about two months. Most of the time I was breathing in silence and trying to stay still despite the fact that my leg and hip muscles were contracting. Worse still, sometimes I couldn’t help breaking the silence with a pretty embarrassing noise. I farted loud and long. Lucky that no one noticed except me.

Apart from the awkward moments, I feel refreshed, reset and energized after meditation. Just like rebooting a laptop. Everything starts afresh. As I breathe in more oxygen consciously and limit physical movement during meditation, my mind has more energy to stay awake. I enjoy the calmness and awareness. It helps me to clear the negative thoughts and declutter memories from the past, creating space for the mind to rest and focus on now. I find myself happier, more productive and let go quick after meditating.

If you’re interested to understand mindfulness meditation (OMM is one of it) better, try reading Mindfulness in Plain English and Wherever You Go, There You Are. Or follow the guided meditation to practice yourself. After all, practice is the only way to get there.

New rich

creativity

What is new rich (NR)?

Happy new year! Wish you a happy and creative 2019! How would you design your new year 2019? Speaking of new, have you ever heard of the term new rich (NR)? It’s a word coined by Tim Ferriss who is living a new rich lifestyle. What the hell is new rich lifestyle? It’s a totally different lifestyle designed by entrepreneurial and creative minds that provoke people to rethink the way they live and ask the question “How would you like to design your life?”

The new rich is idea-rich, time-rich, experience-rich and relationship-rich. What makes the new rich people different is that they design their desired lifestyle instead of living by default, and they prioritise time for important relationships and dreams.

Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek is a good book that explains clearly what exactly new rich is about. The book was written 10 years ago but its impact has lasted so long that it has inspired many people to redesign their lives. The key to have a nomad life like Tim Ferriss is outsource, outsource and outsource! Tim lists some other new rich people in his book:

Another book by David Moore called The New Rich: Escape the job you hate by starting a business the world will love is one more good example who challenges the mainstream lifestyle and design a different way of living. Everyone can create the life they want so why not be adventurous and do what you want. What is the one thing that you want to do the most in 2019? My answer is I want to write a book. Of course I have many other things want to do as well. Yet, it’s more effective to have a focus. Prioritise the top one and get it done first.

How would you like to live your 2019 and the rest of your life?

Creative doing!