Curation Saturday: If You Can Talk, You Can Write

One of my favorite recent purchases [August 2017 is recent for me] is the book, If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman. [Not an affiliate link. I just couldn’t easily find how own website.]

Here are a few points I’ve revisited today in my reading session:

  • “Whether you’re struggling with a single sentence or polishing a book-length manuscript, let progress be your guide, not perfection your nemesis.”
  • “Along the way, you’ll develop technique, stamina and—if you’re lucky—the ability to make your next effort better than the last.”
  • “Conquer your worry about not writing by writing every day—either by counting the minutes or counting the pages.” In my case, I’ve been counting the words. I’ve done so ever since the January 500 Word Challenge.

Curation Saturday–Tweets About Writing

A few favorites from Jon Winokur’s recent Tweets…


Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.
ESTHER FREUD #amwriting #writing #writinglife


Write what you want. People rarely recognize themselves on the page. And if they do, they’re often flattered that a writer has paid attention.


“Most people have no concept of writing, or what’s involved with the process…”
David Sedaris

500-Word Challenge: The Final Day–A ‘Conversation’ with Jon Acuff

finish lance-grandahl-435209

A Conversation with Jon Acuff

Today’s Challenge Prompt from Jeff Goins is about finishing this 15,500 word adventure. More than likely more than that.

And so I chose to bring in a guy who is currently on the forefront of finishing, Jon Acuff, who published Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done.

I bought the book and it is the most recent one I’ve, uh, finished.

A worthwhile investment, I have to say.

Moving on…I selected some quotes—in italics—from the book [thank you, Goodreads] and will apply them to my 500-Word Challenge experience.

Here goes…

[By the way, I’m not counting the quotes as words toward my total. That would be flat-out cheating, right?]

“The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you’ll accomplish your goals.”

Jon, you did a nice job picking apart perfection and it helped me rip through my challenges without listening too intently for ‘the voices’. One hundred word bursts were often the norm and that felt good. What else felt good? Clicking ‘post’, even though I knew the writing wasn’t a third draft product. I will admit there were times when I spent a little too much time editing, and even adding an image to spice things up, but all in all, it was nice to have that feeling of ‘my work here is done’.

“But more than just analysis, perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions: Hiding places and Noble obstacles A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal. A noble obstacle is a virtuous-sounding reason for not working toward a finish. Both are toxic to your ability to finish.”

These two concepts tagged along throughout the month. Much of the writing certainly didn’t address many of my main goals, such as developing an online course as well as completing stories in a series I’m working on. And while I benefited considerably from the month, I wondered if I leaped into this as yet another side trip, yet another ‘hiding place’. I think those terms are essentially other words for ‘rationalizations’ and I could easily rationalize my participation—building consistency, rising above perfection, exploring new directions and voices, even. But at the end of this month, what will I have to show for it? A corollary to your chapter on hiding places and noble objectives—the more we delve into those side trips, the more of a burden we face…not only in playing catch-up with the projects we really want to finish, but in somehow justifying our decisions to veer off-course. And we not only at times have to justify it to ourselves, but we might also have some stakeholders we might have to convince. No easy feat.

The bigger rule was “For something to count, it has to be difficult.” A lot of high performers carry that sort of secret rule along with them. If an exercise is enjoyable and you have fun doing it, it must not count.

Bravo to me for not falling prey to this secret rule. The 500-Word Challenge was rarely a grind. And when it felt that way, it was more a product of stupid annoying technology. It was fun to come up with new directions and new formats for the daily challenges. I enjoyed the Q and A from imaginary readers and will continue to play with that. For the last year, I’ve for the most part played it straight in my blog and this challenge often enabled me to cut loose a bit. Uh-oh, confession time. I strayed from this challenge to ensure I quoted you correctly: Make It Fun If You Want It Done. And in the process, I ran across your Finish workbook. That baby is printing out as I’m completing this sentence.

All you have to do is win more today than you did yesterday and repeat the whole thing tomorrow.”

Okay, I’ve passed my 500-word goal already, but I’ll close by addressing this quote. Love it. And the challenge absolutely cemented this philosophy. So what’s next? Staying the course set by this final quote and building a focus on fun, halving my daily goals, keeping an eye on data [even if it’s words per day…or productive habits practiced], and dodging the ever-present hiding places and noble objectives.

Image courtesy of Lance Grandahl/Unsplash

500-Word Challenge: Six mini-lessons

never a failure always a lesson
a. When I finished the longer piece, I gave myself five minutes to do a light edit. Yes! Finished with 30 seconds to spare! 
b. During my 30-minute exerbike sessions, inspiration generally kicks in after ten minutes of pedaling and reading. At that point, I’m generally reaching for a pen and notebook and the ideas really do flow.
c. I spend too much time looking for/inserting an image to accompany my writing.
d. In spite of ‘c’, I do appreciate Pixabay and Unsplash.
e. YouTube has lots of good 90-120 minute videos of instrumental music.
f. My eclectic’s journal has consistently launched me into rapid word surges.

500-Word Challenge: Day 29–Letter to Ideal ‘Make Side Hustling Stick’ Customer

Readers: I just wanted to document my 29th of 31 days of the 500 Word Challenge. [685 words]


Greetings ideal customer

Welcome to:

Make Side Hustling Stick

Strategies to Learn–Really Learn!–the Best of ‘Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days’

We will explore the book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days,  written by Chris Guillebeau.

Here are a checklist of what will best serve you during this course.

A willingness to revisit what fuels your enthusiasm to take this course. Maybe it’s as simple as your desire to create a side hustle, an extra income source that can be both fun and profitable. You’ll no doubt be learning from the master, who has also written The $100 Startup and Born For This and The Happiness of Pursuit and The Art of Non-Conformity.

Maybe you want to rise above the negative experiences from your previous years in school. You might want to convince yourself that you’re learning a lifelong learner and you want to put it to use for good.

And then there’s the desire to reinvent yourself–perhaps that has emerged lately.

You might want to be doing something for yourself–take on a project that challenges you and you alone.

You might also be thinking that the side hustle component of the course will help others. Bravo.

How about good ol’ self-improvement?

Or the need to address the question, ‘If not now, when?’. You know, that voice that whispers that your time on this earth is finite.

[By the way, just listing these possible reasons is a helpful reassessment exercise for me.]

Believe me, these are all valid reasons. Just latch on to the ones the keep you moving forward in this course.

Okay, more on your supply list.

— Imagination. The ability to visualize. No, not necessarily the ‘woo-woo’ level of visualization, but at least enough to see yourself taking forward steps, no matter how large or small. The key is forward.

— Still on the imagination thread, be open to talking to yourself on paper. after all, if you want to learn you need to talk it through.

— A pioneering spirit, a readiness to try out new ideas, new strategies.

— Enough of a trust in me and this course that you will benefit not just from covering the content of the book, but from the ‘make it stick’ strategies that you can rely on for later non-fiction and how-to books.

— A smartphone would be really helpful for its camera and its connectivity. Trust me on this.

— An ability to reframe the act of reading as you know it now. There will be times you will be writing [don’t worry, the only real audience during this course is you. I’ll put my red pens away, honest!]. Other times, I’ll invite/encourage you to sketch and make diagrams to help you flesh out your learning.

— A sketching tablet or digital version of a tablet.

— A decision to see yourself as ‘the boss’ of your book. That means, if you run into chapters that are not serving you, skip them. Give them enough of a glance to remember their basic message. Beyond that, move on. Not every chapter keeps every reader riveted and on-target. Realize that you are actually ‘hiring’ this book [and this course] to provide you with lasting benefits.

— The same goes for this course: If you encounter a module that doesn’t serve you, skip it, but even better, drop me a quick note telling me why that is the case. Let’s just assume that if you’re not being served, then that’s probably true of others.

— A readiness to thrash the book with dog ears and sticky notes and bright yellow highlights–whatever you think will be most valuable for you.

— An openness to sharing at least one success or suggestion during the course, though I’m hoping you’ll be more involved than that.

— So, I hope this list hasn’t scared you away. Of course, it might feel like a heavy investment, but it’s an investment in yourself, and I’m willing to bet that if you can even muster half of these list items, you will be making marked progress in both side hustling and in developing your own personalized learning strategies.

Let’s get going. I’m looking forward to the adventure.


Curation Monday–Links for Writers

Back to ‘curation’ mode…

pinterest icon

I’m not an avid user of Pinterest, but when I do sit down with it, well, it really is a gold mine of links and information.

Here are a few Pinterest-gleaned items that might interest you:

1. A Writer’s Manifesto

2. 101 Best Websites for Writers [I clicked the link which sent me to a page that offered a link to this valuable PDF.]

3. 10 Great Podcasts for Writers

4. The Super-Secret Way to Create Suspense in Your Story