Write or Else! Funniest Writing App Ever

Write or Die
If you’re slacking, Write or Die forces you to write

Although I usually don’t have problems writing because I’ve trained myself out of blatant procrastination over the years, I can get side-tracked. I decide that although I need to work on Project X because a deadline’s looming, it’s far more important to work on Project Y.

To force myself to work on Project X, I’ve been using Write or Die. It’s a fun app which has several Modes. I love Kamikaze Mode, because if you don’t keep writing, your words start disappearing.  It’s a giggle; a real antidote to boredom.

Write or Die has a free Web version, as well as a paid download for Mac and PC. It’s also available as an iPad version. Give the free Web version a try, but beware Kamikaze Mode.

Everyone’s a Writer Now: 2 Tips to Make Writing Easy

Monkey Mind - Ideas

Everyone writes these days – you need to write emails, marketing materials, Web content. No one escapes. It’s debilitating if writing is a chore for you. It needn’t be.

I’ve been coaching a couple of solo entrepreneurs to help them to have fun, enjoy writing, and write more.

They’ve found these two tips useful – maybe you will, too.

1. Ideas are everything: collect “emotional” ideas

Create an Idea Bank. This is a store of ideas which intrigue you, for one reason or another. They don’t need to be useful ideas, in the sense that you will ever use them in writing blog posts, marketing materials, or anything else.

The only qualification an idea requires to be included in your Idea Bank is that it arouses an emotion in you.

Here’s why. Your mind is an association machine. Buddhists refer to “monkey mind” – like a cageful of monkeys, your mind leaps from one association to another. Emotion teases your monkeys, so anything which stimulates an emotion arouses your creativity.

When writing, emotion is GOLD. Over the years, I’ve managed to write with enthusiasm about compost, pet food, and iron rebar. Not because I find these topics inspiring, but because I’ve learned the emotion-inspires-creativity mind trick.

It’s just a trick. :-)

2. Just start writing

Any emotion works to start you writing. You don’t need to be inspired to write before you start.

Inspiration happens while you’re writing, so don’t wait to write.

Let’s say you own an online pet store. You need to write a blog post, and your mind is a desert. You don’t want to write. You’d rather poke your eyeball with a fork.

Write: “I don’t want to write, I’d rather poke my eyeball with a fork. I wonder what happened to our garden fork, I haven’t seen it in weeks. Maybe the neighbor’s got it. I’ll go over there later – no they’re on vacation, in Bali, I wonder how much the air fare is to Bali… Where did they say they were boarding Snoopy?”

See? Monkey mind. Your mind leaps from one association to the next. Within a few sentences, you’ve latched onto a topic for a blog post – boarding kennels. You didn’t have to do anything except feel something, and write.

Next, start writing about boarding kennels, in the same meandering fashion. Before you know it, you’ll have a great idea for a blog post. Just as you did initially, meander your way through the post, until it’s done.

What happened here?

You started with an emotion – dislike of writing. You hate writing. You bounced off that emotion to write – just words. Within sentences, something you could use came out.

Start with any emotion you choose. Use that emotion to propel yourself into writing.

In summary: collect ideas which intrigue you and/ or make you FEEL. Then, once you feel an emotion – any emotion – start writing.

Try this process yourself. You’ll be surprised at how easy it makes writing.

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Improve Your Writing: 4 Instant Fixes

Improve Your Writing: 4 Instant Fixes

Want to improve your writing? Let’s look at four fixes which will improve your writing whenever you use them.

1. Write ABOUT Your Topic Before You Start Your Writing Task. Pre-writing loosens you up.

Most people who want to complete a writing task just start writing. Then they stop. They get distracted. An hour later, they give up the task because they “hate” writing.

Others who want to complete a writing task remember English lessons at school, and create an outline for their projected piece of writing. They soon get distracted, and give up too.

Here’s why they give up. Researchers claim that we can’t hold more than seven discrete thoughts in our brain at once. This makes writing and thinking a challenge, because our brains associate thoughts.

For example, let’s say you start writing an email message to your boss on customer service challenges. You know what you want to say, but the words aren’t coming out right. After five minutes, you find yourself thinking about a movie, because you thought about your boss, and the time you and your partner had her and her husband to dinner. You chatted about movies at dinner, and you realize it’s been a while since you went to see a movie. Before you know it, you’re texting your partner asking what movie he’d like to see later in the week.

You can end these struggles with distraction.

Write about your writing task first. Get a timer, and set it for five minutes. Free write about the writing task.

In this article on writing well online, I discussed a writing process. Follow that process, and whenever you get distracted, free write.

Writing’s a muscle. Free writing helps you to build a writing habit because it trains you to produce words, no matter how crappy those words might be, initially.

2. Write Short Sentences. It’s easier to keep track.

Hemingway had several rules for writing, one of which was to write short sentences. Here’s the benefit of writing short sentences: you achieve clarity. You say what you want to say, and people understand what you’re saying.

Collect your sentences into paragraphs. Ideally you’ll link your paragraphs seamlessly, so that your readers can follow your arguments.

3. Stick to One Idea Per Paragraph.

Sticking to one thought/ idea per paragraph is a basic writing rule.

Combine this rule with #2, and you’ll say what you want to say quickly and simply. Your readers will love you. :-)

4. Begin at the End (Action!)

I’m a copywriter, so I love AIDA, the copywriter’s formula. (Attract attention, inspire interest, create desire, develop action.)

You want your readers to take action on what you write, so decide what you want them do first, before you start writing. Make a note of the action you want your readers to take.

Since you now know the end result, your writing will flow more easily… AND you’ll be effective.


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If You Need to Write Well Online: 5 tips

Writing tips
These days, everyone needs to be a competent writer. I work with many clients, helping them to hone their writing skills and become proficient.

If you need to write online, but aren’t comfortable with it, you can develop the writing skills you need.

These five tips will help.

1. Practice every opportunity you get — it’s all practice

Writing is a muscle. Just as with every other muscle, to strengthen it you need to practice.

At times, getting the words out is hard, even for professional writers. Only practice makes writing easier. If you need to write for your job, set aside 25 minutes every day, just to write.

Writers know that writing can be fixed. Stop trying to write well. Write anything… just get something down.

Writing is a process:

* Drafting
* Outlining
* Writing
* Revision
* Editing

Some writers draft before they outline, others outline first, then draft. To “draft” is simply to get something — anything — on the computer screen. You can’t fix it, until it’s written.

2. Write a description of each writing task

Writing tends to morph. You set out to write a blog post about 10 ways to do something or other, and before you know it, you’ve gone off at a tangent to write something else.

You need to corral your thoughts. Do this by writing a brief description of what you want to write. Indeed, a writing “brief” is just that, a description of a writing task. Your brief can be long or short. I like to write a brief as soon as someone gives me a writing project. I send the brief back to the client, asking: “is this what you want?” When the clients says “yes”, I know that I have the scope of the project.

3. Create a list outline

A “list outline” is a list of the points you will make in the article; if it’s a book, it’s a tentative list of the chapters in the book.

Nothing is set in stone at this stage. It can and will change.

Write something, anything. Writing is always discovery — you won’t know what you think, until you write it down.

I’ve found Sondra Perl’s composing guidelines useful for my students:

These writing guidelines will help you discover more of what is on your mind and almost on your mind. If they seem artificial, think of them as “exercises.” But they are exercises that will help you to perform certain subtle but crucial mental operations that most skilled and experienced writers do naturally.

4. Read the kind of writing you need to do

Read. Read what you want to write. Read anything and everything, from poetry, to prose, and graphic novels. Read the classics — 100 best books will get you started.

Read as much as you can. Read instead of watching TV — read.

5. Use spell and grammar check in your word processor

The spell and grammar checking utilities in your word processor aren’t perfect. They’re just useful, so use them. If you’re not sure of grammar, sites like this one can help.

Big tip: if you’re writing for a commercial site, rather than a personal website or blog, hire an editor to proofread your material. This is money well spent. Nothing destroys trust as quickly as dodgy word use and grammar on a commercial site, or in email.

Team Up 2013

Over time, the more you practice and read, the more comfortable you’ll become writing. If you need specific help, contact me.