I Heard You but I Wasn’t Listening

Are you truly listening? The opening monologue of The Grand Budapest Hotel offers a truism writers must take to heart. Here’s the text from the opening of the film:

It is an extremely common mistake.

People think that a writer’s imagination is always at work, that he’s constantly inventing an endless supply of incidents and episodes, that he simply dreams up these stories out of thin air.

In point of fact, the opposite is true.

Once the public knows you’re a writer, they bring the characters and events to you, that is as long as you maintain your ability to look and to carefully listen, these stories will continue to seek you out over your lifetime.

To him who has often told the tales of others, many tales will be told.”

I couldn’t agree more. Inspiration is everywhere. You only have to keep your eyes open to see and take time to listen. Truly listen.

Too much is said that nobody pays any attention to. This era of social media is filled with people shouting just to hear the sound of their own voice.  With all that static, its hard for the writer to tune into a particular voice.

I think its a two-sided problem.  Writers  have to be judicious in what they share. Does it matter? Is it factual? Is it kind? It is helpful? No more purposeless noise, please.  At the same time, listeners have to truly listen. What was said? How is it relevant? Is this truly an inspiration? Am I better informed?

My Mum had a great apology that I’ve adopted as my own. She would say “I’m sorry. I heard  you but I wasn’t listening.” What distracted parent (or writer) can’t relate to that?

Quote tile: I'm sorry. I heard you but I wasn't listening.I love that she owned up to the fact that sometimes she wasn’t really engaged in what I said. As a school teacher, her inner monologue would be filled with all sorts of problems and plans related to her classroom. Now that I, too, am a parent I better understand that tricky transition time when it can be a struggle to shift from work gear to parent gear. And sometimes the gear box is jammed!

I’m committed to listening. And I hope you are, too. With a bit of luck, stories will seek us both out for a lifetime.

Take off the Invisibility Cloak

Digital Cleanse Day 30:

Take Off the Invisibility  Cloak

The invisibility cloak is one of my favorite parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, an invisibility cloak won’t serve you well in a digital cleanse. To truly take control of your data and have technology work for you, you’ve got to be able to see at a glance what’s available to you.

If you’ve applied the advice in the digital cleanse you  have a single email archive, only the apps you need, an organized photo library and one cloud to store it all on. The last step is to make sure its all visible. Don’t bury your access points in folders within folders. Make them as close to top level as possible. Similarly, unpack your apps so you can see them on your desktop, home screen or dock.

Your technology should be equally accessible. Don’t tuck it all away in a drawer or box. Have it out where you can get at it. What are you using on a regular basis?  Think about your dedicated devices and how you use them. I embrace the idea of giving each item a specific home. If I’m not using my iPad, it’s on my nightstand when I’m at home or in my purse when I’m out and about. I always know where to find it.

I suggest you start an “old technology” box as you rediscover gadgets and gizmos around your home or office. I was amazed at what I found. It was a technological archeological dig. I uncovered:

  • My trusty PalmPilot Treo, my last Palm mobile before I switched to iPhone.
  • A BlueAnt bluetooth speaker
  • A four-port USB 2.0 hub
  • A Veo SD Camera
  • Two Light Wedge book lights
  • A Digital Tag namebadge
  • A LiveAction Mic
  • Two magnetic mobile phone camera lenses
  • A Cinemin Swivel projector bought on impulse at the Las Vegas airport
  • And a couple dozen miscellaneous cables that might be useful one day

Some items, I’ll use again. Most will be sold or given away. A side benefit of the digital cleanse was a little office decluttering.

What you can’t see is easily forgotten. So take off the invisibility cloak and live your digital life.

That’s a wrap on the 30 day #digitalcleanse. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.Join me at Social Media Camp where I’ll be debuting my Digital Cleanse presentation. Hope to see you then!