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.

Sleep For Fewer Digital Mistakes

Digital Cleanse Day 27:

Sleep Means Fewer Digital Mistakes

Sleep.  If you sleep, you’ll be a better writer and a better business person. When you’re well-rested you communicate your ideas more clearly, get more done time in less time and make fewer digital mistakes.

Personally, I know its time to stop writing when I start mixing up my homonyms. You’ll have to trust me that I know the difference between there, their and they’re. Ditto for its and it’s. But odds are if I’ve goofed, I was sleep-deprived when I wrote it.  To paraphrase Oliver Twist, “sleep/ glorious, sleep/ what wouldn’t we give for/ that extra bit more.”

Do you know your tired-triggered errors? We’ve all done it. Pushed send on an email and only then realizing we’ve quoted the wrong price. Uh oh! Or tweeted an auto-correct blunder. Or tagged the wrong person.  Or posted a personal post on a business page. Oops!

Do you touch-type? I learned to type without looking at the keyboard in Grade 9. To type correctly, I start with my fingers on A S D F and J K L ; – easy if you know how. But it’s also easy to goof and put your fingers on  Q W E R and U I O P, one row about the correct position. If you’ve learned to touch-type you might be a couple paragraphs in before you look at the screen. Yes, I’ve done this. My excuse: I was tired.

If you happened to notice a typo on my website, I welcome your edits. Just pop me and email with the link and the correction. It can happen to anyone. I, for one, will be glad to right the wrong.

This is also a good time to think about how you handle the public’s feedback on your content. Can you handle the criticism? It’s not always easy to accept the feedback with good grace. A well-rested writer can handle criticism more easily. And fewer mistakes happen if they get a solid night’s sleep.

Book Cover: Chicago Manual of Style 16th EditionSometimes there’s a difference of opinion about what’s correct.  That’s why the print edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) is 1026 pages long. Or 1035 if you include the table of contents. Or 1041 if you include the preface and the acknowledgements. See what I mean?

So, as best you can sleep more and you’ll enjoy the benefits of fewer digital mistakes.

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Work with Your Security Blankie. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)

Resources for Writers

Angela Crocker
Angela Crocker

Writer. Author. Editor. No matter your title in the world of words, there is a continuous search for inspiration and a lifelong dedication to professional development. With my Resources for Writers series, I intend to share some of my favourite tools, references and activities. These things fuel my own writing. I trust that other writers will find this series inspiring and encouraging as they sit to put pen to paper or fingers on keyboard.

Truth be told, I struggled to declare myself a writer, even though I’m a published author and a communications professional who has written thousands of pages of press releases, grant applications, reports and articles. My self-perception started to change in May 2014 when I attended Ann Douglas’ inspiring How To Be a Happy Writer workshop in Vancouver. My fellow participants were insistent. “You ARE a writer, Angela.” and somehow, by the end of day, my thinking began to shift. Now, when people ask what I do professionally, I tell them with pride that I am a writer.

Most of the time.

I’m my own work in progress.

When I combine my background in marketing, performing arts, teaching and books with my writing experiences and the transition to declaring myself a writer, I came to realize just how much of sharing thoughts through words is a personal journey. Sure, anyone can take a course in grammar or essay structure or research techniques but those who choose to be writers are passionate about words in unique and personalized ways.

As I started writing this series, it suddenly occurred to me that I inadvertently skipped the market research step. Chalk it up to enthusiasm! A quick Google search for “resources for writers” returned thousands of results.

The top result comes from the admirable and lauded Margaret Atwood offering sound advice that made me laugh out loud. There is a also a wonderful crowd-sourced list of resources on Lifehacker from 2013.  The Writers Union of Canada looks at the topic more broadly including links to organizations of interest to writers, funding agencies, advice on publishing plus much more.  Writers will also find a multitude of resources available at the cost of providing an email address or simply for sale along the lines of the offerings from Writers’ Digest and from the wonderfully personable Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn.

Now, I will add my voice and quirky perspective on resources for writers. Please, let me know how my eclectic, personal collection of resources has been helpful to you. And I’m interested to know what your go-to resources are. You can leave a comment here or on any post in the series that catches your attention or email me.

Write on!