Why Do Writers Make Such Great Listeners

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Let’s start at the very beginning. What are the things a great listener is doing differently than “normal” listeners?

One of the things is the focus. It seems many people are concentrated on what they will say, they forget to listen to what the other person says. Thinking during listening isn’t very helpful. Writers know how to focus. They know how to concentrate on the most important things, and they recognize a story and its thread.

But what do great listeners differently? They keep their mouth shut, they listen without judging, their entire body language is turned to the speaker, their facial expression is interested and open, only to name a few. Of course, now the important part starts, listening and taking in. By asking questions in our own words, to make sure we are interpreting the speaker’s words correctly, we are showing we absorbed the given information. Additionally, there’s one more thing: consciously memorizing.

Let’s say: we are listening to someone who tells us a story and we’d like to repeat it at some other occasion, we will memorize it. If the speaker is our friend and entrusts us with a problem or secret and asks for help and support, we will memorize it to give it some thought and come back later with a solution.

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway

I think it’s significant these words were spoken by a writer.

I’ve always been a very helpful person. It came naturally to me to listen to my friends’ problems, support them, help them. I was trained in memorizing what bugged them to be of the most effective help I could be. The best listener cares.

But being a writer taught me to listen to more. I’m taking in as much sound and noise as all the other people around me. But instead of blanking out some of the ‘noise’ I start concentrating on it. Occasionally I ‘threw a look’ over to the speaker who waved me over and included me into the story as an additional listener. And that’s what I do. I listen, I take in, I separate ‘nonsense’ from ‘maybe useful’ and I memorize.

I’m not only talking about ‘conversations,’ or ‘secrets’ I pick up. I’m as well listening to descriptions, of people, of landscapes, of personalities, even of cars. I never know when it comes in handy. Imagine one of my characters driving in some sports car; I might be using the description I heard of how the driving feels like.

I’m listening because I’m interested. I’m interested in people; I’m interested in helping. I will never use what I hear to expose someone. Not all experiences I hear are of interest to me. I’m writing fantasy and paranormal romance. Maybe an author of love stories or thrillers can use more of what he listens to. You might tell us below in the comments.

Sometimes Empaths can experience one of the ‘hard sides’ of listening. The emotional toll it takes on them. I was going through that before. Occasionally it still happens to me, even though with age I became more and more able to shield myself from that painful side effect of being helpful. So, good listeners might be aware that listening isn’t always about hearing secrets, problems, good stories or jokes. Sometimes listening needs guts!

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

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Writing Is Easy And It Is Hard

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Neil Gaiman is right. Writing is easy – and it’s hard.

We writers have a story in our head, and we want it written. That’s what we love doing; the book is what we want to accomplish.

But there is so much more. The characters, the plot, the genre, the word count, the editing, the cover, the formatting, the copyright, the beta reading, the hope and the fears.

Many of us, I figure, have the same fears that I have: Is the story as good as I hope it will be? Could I have done better? What does the reader want? What do the readers say? How are the reviews going to be? Is the book the way I wanted it to be? Are my characters the way I imagined them? There are so many more questions my fear, right now, won’t release.

In many ways, our passion is easy: just a keyboard (or a piece of paper and a pen), and we’re on it. But still, it is hard work. Do we think about everything we learned? Is the story the way we had it in our head?

And the writing is only one part. The ones of us who planned to go the self-publishing way, our work only start started with the publishing date. The networking, the marketing, getting the word and the book out there.

I think I’m not the only one who would love to write, just write and write and write… but then, I want my stories to be read too. And when it comes to that, I need to get all this work done.

That’s the hard part for me. (Apart of all fears and nightmares, of course).

So, yes. Neil Gaiman is right. Writing is easy – and it’s hard.


Picture courtesy of: Wikipedia.com

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, (born Neil Richard Gaiman 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films.

His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals.

He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. (Source: Wikipedia)

Ain’t That The Truth?

 

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When I read this quote, I thought back to my life and was surprised I found nearly everything I thought “happened to me” that was painful, devastating, hard to take or heartbreaking (at least when it came to relationships) I had to go through all this to walk on a different path.
Most situations I was in, which I thought made me happy, were only a short illusion and neither one of them was good.

Now, each one of us, I think, has a different way to think “who” did change my/his/her situation. Some might think, it was ‘Karma,’ some may think it was, what it was, some may think, our life follows a certain path, and some others, including me, might think, God decided to show me a better direction.

One of my best friends once told me several times already: “God might have other plans with you.” And I think she’s right. However, it seems He’s quite busy keeping me on the path He has designed for me. My sense of orientation must be extremely lousy when He had to lead me back to the road ever so often.

I’m curious when I need to be saved the next time. But how do I know I’m going in the wrong direction, or I’m walking off the path that was created for me? Is this the ‘sense of life’ everybody speaks about? To know when to walk in the right direction, the one that takes you where you need to go? The one path that takes you directly to the Stairway to Heaven?

I sometimes wonder, what the future holds for me. But then: If we knew it ahead: Wouldn’t life be boring?


Picture courtesy of: https://www.insightforliving.ca/about/chuck-swindoll

Charles Rozell “Chuck” Swindoll (born October 18, 1934) is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. He founded Insight for Living, headquartered in Frisco, Texas, which airs a radio program of the same name on more than 2,000 stations around the world in 15 languages. He is currently senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas.  (source: Wikipedia.com)

A Colorful Metamorphosis – A Riddle


When I am born in a small egg

I have neither head nor have I leg.

All I am once I am hatched

is an eating machine well matched.

**

All I’m then is stomach and mouth

I’m eating through meals from North through South.

growing, growing is my goal

I’m a worm with no heart, nor have I soul.

**

But even then I’m out of norm

I have different colors, skin or form.

I come in all different, wormy sorts

just eating to us, is life and sports.

**

After I have reached my size

the next stage of life, it is my prize.

A time of silence it is, and peace

a time to change and still to cease.

**

For quite some time I am a shell

‘pupa’ called, it’s hidden well.

Every cell of mine is turning me

into something else, you soon will see.

**

The last and most important stage

is of an adult, out of that cage.

A second time it’s time to hatch

my former ‘me’s’ well to dispatch.

**

This time, no doubt, I first will be

a trembling ‘newborn’, delicate and free.

This time I’m beautiful with wings to fly.

I figure you guessed – now I am a butterfly.

*****

(Copyright: Aurora Jean Alexander, August 2018)

Picture courtesy of: http://www.spiritanimal.info/butterfly-spirit-animal/

10 Tips To Focus On Writing

Life has become extremely hectic during the past decades. With the current development of technology, which, by the way, can be extremely helpful, in particular to us writers, it can as well be an enormous distraction. I caught myself so many times surfing through the internet, checking this or that social media account before writing, that, at the end of the day I had updated my accounts but haven’t written one single word.

According to scientists, the current average human attention span is around 8 seconds, which means, we are in fact, almost as low as a goldfish.

I was reading myself through psychological essays, meditation websites and a few other interesting pages for support on how to focus until I finally decided I needed my list of tips and tricks.

I am a writer, and besides being distracted by household things, health issues, cat stuff and social media, I love spending time outside… which, I finally realized, was one of the ways to focus on writing.

1. Spend time outside

Spend time outside. Maybe by going for a nice walk or enjoying the sunshine or taking a swim and thinking about your story, it will give you ideas you need to write down as soon as your back on your computer.

2. Work offline

Work offline. It will help you not to go on ‘checking’ on social media, and you can concentrate on your writing.

3. To-Do lists

Make two to-do lists. One for your regular day-by-day things and one for writing (and blogging). Make sure you don’t mix them up, but you need to block some time on your daily to-do list to keep some time for your writing.

4. Work spot

Look for your own silent work spot. Make sure you have a clean desk that doesn’t distract you and start your work. Enjoy and embrace the silence and, if necessary, keep the door closed.

5. Music

Help to focus on your work by listening to music you like. It will also help you to tune out the background noise that might distract you from your writing goal.

6. Big and small goals

Break down big goals into smaller ones. They’re easier to reach, and if you feel you are prepared and ready for the next goal, after a break you still can sit down and start to work on your next goal.

7. Breaks

Breaks! Allow yourself breaks in between your goals. Nothing is as relaxing as a break. It will refresh and reboot your brain. Just don’t forget to close the door again after you return to work.

8. Coffee

Caffeine helps to support your focus. It will wake you up, and while enjoying the warm, dark and spicy liquid in your cup your head is already on its way to your story. (You might ask, why does the coffee only make number eight? Well, I figure since we writers usually start our day with coffee, oral or by injection, I thought it doesn’t need to top this list.)

9. A Good Night’s Sleep

Live a healthy life with plenty of sleep. From what I read over the past few hours, many people are satisfied with only a few hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately being tired and confused in the morning after a lack of sleep, this might interfere with your ability to focus. Make sure you got plenty of sleep, with an average of 7 – 8 hours a night.

10. Keep your moods out

Keep work at work, frustration, and anger outside your work spot. Many writers do have a day job and don’t live off writing. To keep the focus on what you like to do, make sure you are relaxed and calm and left work at the office (or wherever) and blend out anger and frustration. It interferes with your writing.

Extra-tip: Certain food types might support the ability to focus. I figure to find out if that’s helpful, you will need to try: Blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.

Picture courtesy of: https://www.liftlearning.ca/areas-of-focus/

Books And Where They Come From

 

I purposely didn’t title this post “History of Books,” because according to Wikipedia: The History of the Book is an academic discipline that studies the production, transmission, circulation, and dissemination of text from antiquity to the present day.

I was curious what was the first book ever published and did some research on this question. It seems there are some similar opinions about that, in particular since historians disagree on the term “book.” While some say, written text on parchment, papyrus, wood or different other material, a collection of pages between two ‘covers’ are a book; others insist that a roll of parchment or even a collection of rolls or pages are not a book as long as the pages aren’t bound.

Now, it seems the first written language that we know of was archaic cuneiform. What we know it was dated around 3400 BD during ancient Sumerian civilization. (located in current Iraq). The first written story that we know of was The Epic of Gilgamesh, a ruler of the Sumerian state of Uruk. Gilgamesh was believed to have lived between 2700 – 2500 BC. It seems there are several fragmented versions of the story, they were written at different times, the oldest dated around 2100 BC. The most complete version was written on clay tablets and discovered in the ruins of the largest library in the pre-Hellenic ancient world, Nineveh in Assyria. These clay tablets can be viewed in the British Museum.

The first book published in North America was The Whole Booke of Psalmes. It was printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640. It seems eleven copies of this first edition still exist.

I discovered several lists of the oldest, still existing ‘books’ in the world. These lists are quite similar, even though there is a protest that the one or other ‘book’ is missing. But I guess this might be an interpretation of the term ‘book’ once again.

• Etruscan Gold Book – approx. 2,700 years old
• Nag Hammadi Library – approx.. 1,700 years old
• St. Cuthbert Gospel – approx. 1,300 years old
• Siddur, Jewish Prayer book – approx. 1,200 years old
• Diamond Sutra – approx. 1,150 years old
• Celtic Psalter – approx.: 950 years old
• Gutenberg Bible – approx. 560 years old

Of course, there are so many examples I cannot mention here at this point. These were just the ones that were the most noticeable during my research.

Over the past millennia, the bookbinding industry has progressed. First slowly, then faster. I’m talking about the clay tablets, the manuscripts, the parchment rolls, the first codex’, the first books, illustrations, hardcovers, paperbacks, e-readers, and of course books we can read on every existing tablet.

When I thought about this evolution of books all of a sudden, I burst out into laughter. Did you notice, in my recital, I used the same word twice to describe two completely different ‘things’?

I admit, this fact caused a certain cheerfulness in my heart. “Retro.” Even the book industry is affected.

          BACK TO THE ROOTS

 

          TABLET vs. TABLET

 

Discipline & Accomplishment

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Reading the above quote, I was immediately thinking about how disciplined I am; and how disciplined I would like to be.

Me working in a full-time job, of course, I would love to have more time to write. Not that I never take time to. It often seems to me that I barely do anything else in my time outside the office, except working on one of my books. Either I write, or I type one of my drafts into the computer, or I edit, or I work on a copyright, a cover, or anything else that has to do with either writing or blogging.

There were so many days (and nights) I found myself in front of my computer at 2 am and realizing that I should have gone to bed three hours ago considering I have to get up and go to work sometime between 7 and 8 am.

Of course, when I get home, I have to provide myself and the cats with dinner, play with them, maybe have to clean at home, do laundry or get something else done that needs to be done in my daily life.

Occasionally there is just simply no time to do any writing or blogging. On a day like this, I find myself in bed, feeling guilty about neglecting my writing, pushing my passion and obsession to the very end of my ‘to-do’-list.

These are the days I feel I’m not disciplined enough to follow up and do whatever I can to reach my goal.

To this day I have no idea what more I can do to be more disciplined. A plan? A different ‘to-do’-list? I’ve tried it all. In the end, I just had to see: my priorities are set right. But once in a while, daily life needs more attention than expected. And no matter how much I love being a writer. I still need to have a home, pay my bills and get food on the table.

Sometimes I’m asking myself, what more can I do? And I wish I’d be wiser…


When I lately read this quote, I expected this quote to root in the wisdom of a successful and experienced man. And I was right. That’s why I tried to find out more about this man’s life.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn (September 17, 1930 – December 5, 2009) was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington, to Emanuel and Clara Rohn. The Rohns owned and worked a farm in Caldwell, Idaho, where Jim grew up as an only child.

Rohn left college after just one year and started his professional life by working as a human resource manager for department store Sears. From there he worked through different industries until the early 1960s when Rohn was invited to speak at a meeting of his Rotary Club. He accepted and, soon, others began asking him to speak at various luncheons and other events. In 1963 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he gave his first public seminar. He then began presenting seminars all over the country, telling his story and teaching his personal development philosophy.

He presented seminars worldwide for more than 40 years. Rohn also coauthored the novel Twelve Pillars with Chris Widener.

Rohn was the recipient of the 1985 National Speakers Association CPAE Award for excellence in speaking. He is also the author of 17 different written, audio, and video media.

Jim Rohn died of pulmonary fibrosis on December 5, 2009. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. (Source: Wikipedia.com)