BOOK REVIEW: “Get Your Articles Published”

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Writing can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Writing articles for a big-time magazine can be intimidating. Fortunately, Get Your Articles Published makes it an inviting craft. Lesley Bown has written a decent guide for newbie freelance writers.

I’ve learned conversational writing is acceptable and articles are made for solutions.

What’s Your Problem?

More than likely, you’ve seen an article headline like  “30 Tummy-Toning Yoga Poses You Can Do Today”. This headline attracts readers because it offers answers. Someone out there wants a flat tummy before bikini season.

Articles state problems and presents solutions. Before writing your own article, ask yourself what problem is your focus.

Conversational Writing

Back in school, I had a frenemy relationship with class papers. I enjoyed writing essays with interesting assigned topics. Sometimes, I received poor grades for the work. The problem: I wrote like I talked instead an elite academic scholar.

I understand there are times you must write like a professional. But in the long run, who’s going to punish you for saying “I love cats” instead of “I commend the grimalkin species”.

Seriously? No.

Thanks to Bown’s book, I don’t have to attempt to write like an overexcited intellectual all the time. It’s all about conversational writing nowadays. I’m more aware of conversational-style writing in many popular magazines and high-trafficking websites.

There’s More!

Get Your Articles Published offers writing tips on reviews, prose, and travel writing. Quite handy for writers who fit in more than one category.

Beware: the book has outdated resource links. The recommended travel article site Itchy Feet hasn’t updated since 2015.   Furthermore, its latest tweet was in 2016.

Always double-check for active resource links.

Conclusion

Interested in freelance writing full-time? Read more writing books with the latest resources.

I appreciate Get Your Articles Published for its handy article writing tips. Overall, I’d recommend it!

Related book reviews and articles

 Which writing books have you read recently?

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BOOK REVIEW: “Lifelong Writing Habit”

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You can’t be a successful writer if you don’t write every day. Well, that’s what only half of the writing population believes. Some writers say you must while others believe you only need to write “often”.

If you’re planning to be a daily writer, read Chris Fox’s Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day. I’ve read this book as soon as I finished his last one, 5,000 Words Per Hour.

In Lifelong Writing Habit, Fox offers valuable writing tips to develop your writing routine. There are excellent ways signaling your subconscious to go into active writer mode.

My top three writing habit takeaways:

  1. Setting up a writing log
  2. Tying a writing routine to a reward
  3. Creating a writing list

Your Writing Log

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Make sure you record your writing activity, whether you’ve written for 30 minutes or three hours.

I’m currently on a 90-day writing challenge writing 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I write up to 90 minutes. These longer times include plotting and editing. According to Fox, they count as writing. Draft work isn’t the only important part.

If 90 minutes sounds too long, you can break it down into small time blocks in three ways:

  • 30-30-30
  • 30-60
  • 45-45

Make sure you record your writing sessions in a notebook, spreadsheet, or a calendar.

The Reward on the Stick

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Is there a temptation distracting you from your work? Minecraft, a Stranger Things marathon, or listening to K-Pop for thousands of years? Use it as your reward!

To set up a consistent work/reward routine, find your trigger. A trigger is anything that initiates a routine. Take these steps as an example:

  1. Write down tomorrow’s writing plans before going to bed. Stick this reminder somewhere you’ll see it first thing in the morning.
  2. Set up your writing tools on your desk (if you have one).
  3. Go to bed.
  4. Wake up.
  5. Find your writing plan and get to work!
  6. Smash your writing session!
  7. Enjoy your reward. 🙂

If you didn’t set up the writing reminder as your trigger, you probably wouldn’t have written anything that day.

Endless Ideas

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Have you ever had the greatest ideas in the shower only for them to disappear seconds later?

Creating an idea list will help you tremendously with your upcoming writing projects. It’s a great resource whenever you have writer’s block.

For the book bloggers reading this, I have written a list of potential ideas you can use for your own blog.

 Conclusion

Lifelong Writing Habit is a writers’ “must read” book. This short book is a writing tip gold mine!

Consistency and focus are the keys to long-term writing success. The more you write, your life changes for the better.

Related book reviews

What is your daily writing routine? Do you write every day or every now and then?

Craving more inspiration? Check out these daily writing/blogging articles:

And these insightful articles why you shouldn’t write/post every day:

(Pic Sources: Giphy)

 

BOOK REVIEW: “Crop Circles”

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  • Title: Crop Circles – Signs, Wonders, and Mysteries (Goodreads) (Amazon)
  • Author: Steve and Karen Alexander
  • Publication: Chartwell Books (October 5, 2009)
  • Genre: Non-Fiction, General
  • Pages: 192
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Library
  • Rating: 3/5

Reading Crop Circles brings me back to the 90s when people were absolutely nuts over aliens. Aliens were in movies, TV, the news, and discussed constantly on radio stations.

Back then, I remember catching news reports about crop circles. People argued aliens truly created the circles while others believed it was only human pranksters. One duo did confess they’ve made crop circles using planks and ropes: Doug Bower and Dave Chorley.

 

However, the “non-human” made crop circle explanations are still left untold.

The Book

Photographer Steve Alexander and writer Karen Alexander created a great book filled with crop circles sightings all over the United Kingdom. They took the time to explain the possible numerology and sacred geometry meanings behind the circles.

For example, the Milk Hill Galaxy crop circle has thirteen circles on each arm. The number thirteen symbolizes transformation The Alexanders contemplated this circle might’ve had a connection to certain tragic US event:

 

“Eerily, just weeks later, the world was transformed by the 11 September attacks in New York. It’s extremely doubtful that the crop circles predicted this event, but perhaps there were just a flicker of something looming in the global consciousness, which was given expression by the appearance of this design.” -Steve & Karen Alexander, Crop Circles

We’ll possibly never know if our intergalactic neighbors were trying to send us a warning.

Strange Circles

Additionally, there are crop circles beyond numerology and sacred geometry interpretations: The Sparsholt alien and the Chilbolton face.

The Sparsholt crop circle has an alien face with a disc inscribed with binary code. The translation:

 

“Beware the bearer of false gifts

And their broken promises

Much pain

But still time

Believe

There is good out there

We oppose deception”

-Sparsholt Binary Code Message

How nice for the aliens to warn us, but from whom?

Next, the Chilbolton face in Hampshire, England. This crop selfie has appeared along with another binary code message describing beings from a different star system.

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The Code (left) and The Face (Right)

Looks like we’re not the only ones after all.

Conclusion

Altogether, Crop Circles is a great visual companion for crop circle hunters. It’s nice to know the meanings behind the circles. I’m surprised the people who made crop circles weren’t mentioned in this book at all. Even if you’re a strong alien believer, this book gives the impression that all the crop circles mentioned were all alien-made.

It would be nice to know the difference between alien and human-made crop circles.

Check out these sites to learn more about crop circles and the latest ones reported around the world:

Books Reviewed like Crop Circles

(Pic Sources: NewEarthCrop Circle ConnectorLatest UFO Sighting)

What’s your take on crop circles? 

 

 

 

 

“5,000 Words Per Hour” Book Review

 

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Struggling to write three hundred words a day? What about five hundred words? A thousand?

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At first, I thought I couldn’t write more than eight hundred words a day until I read 5,000 Words Per Hour. Chris Fox made the impossible possible!

Fox provides many awesome writing tips advising readers to write every day and forget about editing until a draft is absolutely finished.

Sounds like common sense, right?

If you haven’t been writing often, what you don’t know will surprise you!

Tip #1: “Write In the Mornings”

First of all, write as soon as you wake up. List writing as one of your top morning priorities. That way, you’ll have your writing session for the day completed before you do anything else.

If you must wake up for school or work, wake up an hour or two earlier than you’re used to.  It’ll be crazy difficult at first, but better once you keep up with the habit.

Tip #2: “Write Everyday”

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Writing every day can strengthen your writing muscles.

You don’t have to sit on your desk and write for eight hours straight. What matters the most is consistency. Writing daily at the minimum of thirty minutes is good enough. You can always expand your time limits whenever it gets too easy.

Here’s an effective method I’ve done you can try too:

  • Week One: Write for ten minutes
  • Week Two: Write for twenty minutes
  • Week Three: Write for thirty minutes
  • Week Four: Write for forty minutes

You can switch around the times to your desire. It’s better to be writing something in a quick ten minutes than nothing at all.

Tip #3: “No Editing!”

I have an awful editing habit. Whenever I write down a sentence or two, I tend to read it over and change it if necessary. Next thing I know my scheduled writing session is over and I barely wrote more than a paragraph.

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Have you down this before?

Fox recommends writing until you’re absolutely done with your work. If you’re planning to write a short story for example, keep writing until you’ve reached the finish line! The story will be terrible, but it’ll be a finished terrible story.

You’ll be able to see what you need to edit in a greater scale.

I’ve tried this tip with a TV pilot that has been lingering in my mind for a while. There were moments I had to force myself to the next page whenever I was tempted to change a character’s dialogue or fix a lousy scene description. I reminded myself how great it will feel to finally finish that pilot.

After all, there’s no greater feeling than accomplishing something you’ve been putting off.

Tip #4: “Record Your Writing Sprints”

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Fox refers small writing time blocks as “micro-sprints”. They can be five, ten, up to twenty-five minutes. Some people use their cooking timer for their sprints (aka the Pomodoro Technique).

Make sure you record your sessions after you’ve completed your daily sprints. Reviewing your progress will keep you on track on what you need to improve and new challenges needed to be made.

Next, Fox recommends recording words written per day, but I prefer pages. I like to start my writing first on paper. I used to write five to six pages of written content. Now, my average page count is ten, about a thousand words on the computer.

As a matter of fact, there are studies reported writing is more effective on paper compared to typing. Writing by hand can increase brain development and elevate efficient writing.

What kind of writer doesn’t want that?

Tip #5: “Write a Story Timeline”

Are you an active storyteller? Pay extra attention to this tip!

Fox creates his stories by outlining each one with a story timeline. A story timeline consists of three significant scenes: the inciting incident, the first doorway, and the second doorway.

The inciting incident changes the main protagonist’s everyday life, the first doorway leads the protagonist to an unfamiliar world, and the second doorway leads to the final confrontation with the antagonist.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a great example with a notable story timeline:

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  • Inciting Incident: Gandalf the Grey gives Frodo the One Ring.
  • First Doorway: Frodo leaves the Shire with Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
  • Second Doorway: The Fellowship of the Ring battle the Uruk-Hai at Amon Hen.

Every story has this noticeable three-arc timeline. It’ll be helpful for you to plan timelines for your own story developments.

Tip #6: “Full-Time Writer? Write Full-Time!”

You must commit to writing at all times if you plan to be a full-time writer. You’ll be better the more you work on it.

Fox has an inspiring attitude towards his craft. He admits to writing every day including the holidays because loves he so much. It’s a fun way to make a living!

Writing full-time means repeatedly creating, editing, and publishing your work. Plus, generating new ideas all the time.

On top of that, sacrifice is required. You may have to cut off your Netflix marathons and weekend outings with your buds. The short-term pleasures will never compare to the long-term ones. Long-term commitment and discipline offers long-term rewards.

Lastly, creating and focusing on long-term goals will kickstart your writing motivation. Do your writing goals include selling Kindle books on Amazon or creating an insanely popular blog filled with insightful content?

Imprint these goals in your brain and take action now!

Conclusion

Overall, 5,000 Words Per Hour is a convenient book for writers in urgent need to increase their writing productivity. It’s a valuable tool for online content writers too.

However, my only complaint is the book was too short. The book was so intriguing, I bummed out when I finished the last page. I’m sure Fox’s point was to get his readers writing as soon as possible after finishing his book.

Fox’s writing methods were truly helpful. They have helped me become a more productive writer.

Read this book and you’ll become one too!

A Reviewed Book Similar to 5,000 Words Per Hour:

(Pic Sources: Giphy)

Comment below if you’ve read this book or have any writing book recommendations!

BOOK REVIEW: “The Accidental Genius” by Mark Levy

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If you’re a struggling writer searching for new ideas or you can’t seem to write at all, you might want to pick up your own copy of The Accidental Genius.

My views on this book has changed since I’ve read it a few years ago. I clearly didn’t have any takeaways from this book the first time.

Mark Levy sums up simple ways to accomplish writing projects without facing the pain and suffering of writer’s block.

The tips are quite surprising; they’re all about freewriting. I was expecting something more complex.

What is Freewriting?

 Freewriting is writing anything without stopping yourself. You’re good as long there’s something written on paper.

According to Levy, freewriting increases clarity and clears “mind fog”. You don’t want to get lost in writer’s mind fog.

When you write whatever what’s on your mind, it can go on forever. You realize you have more inside you than you know.

You know that incessant internal chatter you have whenever you’re out in a public space surrounded by people? Put those observations into writing.

You know the angry couple arguing with each other? Come up with ideas of what they’re fighting about.

Did one cheat on the other or they’re on the run like Bonnie and Clyde? Write it down.

Write your own story behind the sad clown who plays the violin at your local park.

That creepy guy you met at the subway with the pet rat? He might end up in your next horror story.

The key to freewriting: letting your imagination flourish.

Freewriting Exercises & The Pomodoro Method

I used to do a freewriting exercise at the beginning of a playwriting class in grad school. These exercises have certainly worked my writing muscles, but it was complicated sometimes. My instructor had the session under a strict time limit. I used to freeze up whenever I couldn’t think of the next action or dialogue to write down.

Eventually, I did better in the exercises. I let it flow.

I wrote whatever came to mind even if it sounded like pure crap.  Many interesting stories came out of those sessions.

You can do the same! Give yourself a minute or two to spill out everything that’s on your mind, whether it’s about your day or a glimpse of a short story itching to be written down.

Levy approves of  the Pomodoro Method for your writing sessions. Get a Pomodoro timer (shaped like a little tomato), set it to twenty-five minutes, and write until the time stops. Do this repeatedly and you’ll have plenty of content under your belt.

 Journaling

Journaling is a creative expression of freewriting. As a serial journalist, I highly recommend it. Ideas conveniently pop up as I write my daily journal entries.

One idea always leads to the next.

According to one Huffington Post article, journaling increases memory and communication skills. If you have never journaled before, begin writing entries (no matter how small) at least three times a week.

Now, I see why my literature teachers in the past always started the class with journaling. It’s an excellent way to give your brain a good warm up before writing more serious assignments.

Pick up a journal (or buy one) today and start writing!

The Perfect Draft Doesn’t Exist

Striving for perfection in writing can stop you from any progress. Greatly written content is an event. To reach that goal, you must go through a series of rewrites.

Honestly, revisions are the best parts of writing. Through crappy writing, you’ll eventually reach the golden nugget.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” It’s best to go through the “shitty” phases and explore what’s right for your written piece.

The Page Conversation

Levy suggests writing like you’re talking to your best friend. You know you can talk to them for hours!

One moment you’re drinking wine with your pal in the living room at eight at night talking about what’s happening in your daily lives.  Next, you’re on the balcony with them at three in the morning talking about extraterrestrials and astral projection.

If that entire conversation was recorded on paper and formed into an interesting blog post, you would have content longer than a thousand words guaranteed!

For more professional writing, imagine you’re holding a conference meeting or having a one-on-one session with an influential figure.

Nothing will appear on paper until you start talking.

Write How You Talk

Write exactly how you normally talk. That may include slang terms and relevant anecdotes.

Write what truly interests you and what you can’t stand.

You’re not in college anymore. You don’t have to write like a prestigious student working on their PhD thesis (unless you’re writing for some scholarly sources).

Notice the writing styles between The Economic Journal and Vogue magazine? Completely different voices.

Just be you. Edit out the areas your readers may not understand later.

Stories Are Infinite

They are countless stories of all genres (mystery, fantasy, etc.) in the world. The best part: they never stop.

Think about all the prolific writers like Danielle Steel, James Patterson, and Anne Rice. I’ve been seeing their titles wherever books are purchased and loaned since…forever! These consistent writers don’t seem to be resting from their craft anytime soon.

Writing opportunities are infinite. When you think you’re out of ideas, you’re not. Take a deep breath, relax, and your idea will show up soon enough.

Better yet, it’ll show up when you’re busy writing.

Conclusion

I seriously consider writers and the curious to The Accidental Genius. This book shows readers how writing is truly accomplished in its rawest form before the editing process. It includes many helpful writing tips you can apply.

Plus, it’s a quick read: only 192 pages. This book can be done in two days.

Read this book now and you’ll never be left with writer’s block ever again!

Have you read this book? Comment below to share your story or any recommended books on writing.

 

 

 

 

10x Rule Review: “Do It Ten Times More!”

 

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone (Amazon) (Goodreads)
  • Title: The 10x Rule
  • Author: Grant Cardone
  • Publication: Wiley (April 26, 2011)
  • Genre: General
  • Pages: 240 Pages
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Library
  • Rating: 5/5

You have no time to do what you truly enjoy because you’re stuck in a boring, life-swallowing job and surrounded by soul-sucking leeches. I’m talking about those people who’re like:

“You have unrealistic goals.” -Naysayer

“Why don’t you slow down? You’re doing too much.” -Lame Dude

“You’re not going to make money doing that.” -Non-Supportive Buttmunch

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You tired of all the naysayers’ BS

After reading and applying The 10x Rule, your old negative reality will fade away. This book will literally kick you out of the couch and make you want to conquer the world! I was reassured it was completely okay to go into the deep end of my interests no matter what. Some people may think you’re crazy or obsessed.  Truly, you’re only dedicated and deeply focused.

The 10x Rule states you must apply ten times the action you’re used to doing in exchange for great results. If you’re a blogger with a tiny blog, why not expand yourself putting 10x the effort? You can spread your blog to various social media platforms, create more content, and network. You’ll never know what your joy of blogging may lead you. It could lead to serious profit and sweet job offers.

The problem most people face is undermined activity. They stick with average results expecting big outcomes. Average action only comes with average results. That’s like a runner expecting to gain a fit runner’s body running three times a month. You have to step up your game! According to Cardone, remaining average can be deadly. The path of mediocrity leads to a dead-end. One with an average mind may end up working for higher minds for 30+ years until retirement.

Might as well be dead.

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Do you really want to live somebody else’s dreams or live your own?

The key to standing out is dominating your passion(s). I love reading. I talk to people who love to read and blog about books. Some goes for writing. I write not only blog posts but scripts for film and theatre. I love being unlimited! There are  infinite opportunities available within your joys. Take those opportunities and smash them!

The best part about dominating your field is gaining attention. Cardone notes attention equals to money and power. The more power to you the more you expand yourself. You know those popular video game Youtubers (PewdiePie, DiamondMinecart, etc.) who have gained million dollar incomes for their video game walkthroughs and commentaries? They gained more subscribers (including major companies) with the growing content they provided for their viewers. These video game Youtubers grew their joy of video games with a popular video platform people’ll notice.

I say the only problem Cardone failed to mention in The 10x Rule is burn-out. Sure, you’re doing what you love on a daily basis but you’re a human being who needs to rest at some point.

When I was in college (undergrad), I used to do cardio every single day! I loved it because I was seeing results but my body wasn’t used to the constant activity. One of my knees gave out after an hour walk/run interval around the school track. Boy, I was not happy! From now on, I make sure I schedule rest days at least once a week.  It’s great to put out ten times the effort but it’s better to know when it’s time to rest before your body completely shuts down.

I recommend Grant Cardone’s 10x Rule if you’re ready to do bigger things and receive bigger results in your life. His book reminds me there’s no limit to success. You’ll miss out BIG TIME if you place limits on your achievements.  Read this book and you will become ten times the person you were before.

Comment below if you’ve read this or any of Grant Cardone’s books. Feel free to submit any success stories you have after reading The 10x Rule.

(Gifs: The Scoop Whoop, Giphy, Popkey)