Tag Archives: writing

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Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night ValeThe above text is from Welcome to Night Vale,” an excellent, surreal podcast. I receive no compensation from there (or Denny’s) for sharing this message; I’ve just really, really been enjoying the show lately. This radio-news-report-style “broadcast” from a mysterious town brings together the quaintness of Mayberry, the weirdness of Twin Peaks, and the spookiness of The X-Files in an chillingly funny, original way, with great writing and performance. Check it out on iTunes for free.

Text of above “ad” from Episode 27,First Date,” at about 17:39 [transcript]
What do you think? Are you into anything you’d describe as surreal? Do you listen to Night Vale? What are some podcasts you enjoy ? Been to Denny’s lately? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Crestfallen. Twice.

I like making connections. So I’m often on the lookout for them. It’s fun for me to align concepts for an expanded meaning beyond what they may singularly impart. The same is true with writing: symbolism, parallelism, etc. And as a corporate communications professional, connection-making often comes in handy, whether with words, concepts or people.

Crestfallen

Wired February 2013So it was interesting for me to see an uncommon term, “crestfallen” twice in a single issue of Wired this month. The word appeared in David MacNeal’s story on mobile boombox dance parties, as well as Carl Zimmer’s story on sleuthing out deadly mutant bacteria. Both are positive stories overall, but each includes a mention of someone being crestfallen. I think that’s interesting, and am happy to report not being crestfallen at this discovery.

What do you think? Ever notice an uncommon phrase in rapid succession from multiple sources? Do you believe in synchronicity? What are your thoughts on making connections? Let us hear from you in the comments.

For When You Don’t Feel Like Blogging

Writing a blog post shouldn’t be a big deal, especially if you’re serious about blogging. That said, there are going to be days when you just don’t feel like it.

Blogging

Check out the full series of blogging-themed images
I created over at Flickr and feel free to use them on your own blog.

Having done this for over a year now, a couple times per week steadily, I can fully attest to the occasional lack of motivation – but I always fight through and deliver the goods. Along the way, I’ve picked up these tips for those dark moments when you might not feel like keeping up with your own blog.

1. Have some posts in the bank

In those spells when you feel like writing, or when an idea hits, try to go with it. Take two minutes to get your thoughts into a few sentences or headings you can easily expand upon later. I’ve found the best tool for doing this is dictation software, or at the very least, the drafts feature in WordPress. I’ll even email some ideas to myself as a way of quickly capturing a subject or notion I know can be expanded upon down the road. That way, when the time is right, the content is ready to go.

Language Is A Virus

Another great site for
writing inspiration: LanguageIsAVirus.com

2. Know your inspiration

Have some role models or examples of sites you enjoy on hand to get you thinking about material for your own blog. Or, as Janet Aronica aptly states over at Shareaholic (among the many other excellent tips there):

“Consume the content you want to create.”

By being able to easily refer to your sources of inspiration, you’ll be more likely to generate your own material with your unique perspective – which is the very best part of having your own blog. Set up some bookmarks, feeds, subscriptions, or whatever aggregation method works best for you so you can get inspired and have your own creative juices flowing.

3. Keep it simple, genius

A blog post does not have to be 10,000 words, nor should it be. In fact, brief is often better. I’ve found some of my most popular posts are sometimes the ones with just a compelling image and only a few sentences. Being handy with the phone cam and always on the lookout for quality visuals to share is something I enjoy, and also something I recommend for having interesting blog fodder at the ready.

What do you think? Are these suggestions useful? What tips would you suggest for drumming up motivation or inspiration in blogging? Let us hear from you in the comments.

How To Write The Perfect Blog Post

I don’t often straight-up repost content without elaborating much, but wow — this is one great infographic. And I don’t often say that either. Click for full-size, see what you think & share your thoughts below (credit: Alex Mangini of Kolakube, Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers; first spotted at FamousBloggers via Gregory Ciotti):

PerfectBlogPost

What do you think? Do you employ these practices? Is this really a recipe for perfect post? And if not, what else would you do? What would you do differently? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Words Matter. Apple Knows.

Connotation, phrasing, inference… these are all subtle colors of writing that affect interpretation. I don’t think enough businesses consider this, but it’s something Apple Inc. demonstrated keen awareness of recently in noting how its computers are no longer the iron fortresses against virus infections they were once portrayed to be.

Words Matter. Apple Knows.

Words Matter. Apple Knows. Shot via Hipstamatic, edited in PhotoForge2.

Just like the occasional operating system or software update, Apple’s wording regarding just how safe its computers inherently are got an update recently. As reported in The Atlantic

Apple is downgrading its antiviral swagger. On the company’s site, its former, blunt message — “it doesn’t get PC viruses”has been replaced by a more generic boast: “It’s built to be safe.”

And the slogan of the past — “Safeguard your data. By doing nothing.” — has been replaced by the much gentler “Safety. Built in.”

Megan Garber (& in PC World by Hamish Barwick).

More Accurate? Or CYA?

I find it very interesting how such a subtle change in phrasing notes a major shift in thinking. And perhaps Apple’s thought is that this subtle tweak will be enough to still accurately convey some benefit – although it kinda feels like a CYA to me.

Still, I find it encouraging that understanding shades of meaning and texture of words matter enough to be put into practice by one of the world’s leading companies. Words matter. Writing matters.

UPDATE: From original ace reporter, Hamish Barwick – turns out it IS a CYA:

[tweet https://twitter.com/HamishBarwick/status/218132310841761794]

What do you think? Is this an obvious CYA on Apple’s part, or a legitimately more accurate way of describing its product? What is another example you can think of? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Write As You Speak? Or While You Speak?

Ghost Writer - click for more like thisat my Pinterest board

I call this one “Ghost Writer.”
It was shot via Hipstamatic with the Salvador 84 lens and Rock BW-11 film, then processed in TTV PS and Noir. If you like this, definitely follow the
Pinterest board of my iPhoneography
for more image fun with iPhone apps.

Although some people are much better at verbalizing than writing, it’s just impractical to write in the same way that you speak. Ever since I heard that advice in grade school, I never thought it made good sense.

Now, if by “write like you speak” you mean “write clearly and to the point,” then yes, that is good advice. For anyone who has ever actually transcribed an interview or their own speech (go ahead and try it sometime) it’s very clear that the spoken word differs greatly from the written.

Catch A Dragon By the Tale

Dragon DictationThe whole reason I’m writing about this today – or rather, speaking  – is that I am dictating this via Dragon Dictation, the mind-blowing, powerful speech-to-text transcriber iPhone app. I’ve  used it for other posts in the past but not for one like this in its entirety. So if this prose seems rambling, that’s why. Before posting, I will have gone in and cleaned up some punctuation, added links, and added some graphics, but the bulk of this text has come to you first via audio. And I think that’s pretty amazing.

What do you think? Have you ever used Dragon Dictation or similar software? What’s your experience been like? Do you write as you speak, and do you think that’s good advice or not? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Blog Post Artwork

This post is kind of about art, kind of about technology, and hey, there’s even a link referenced about music. But mainly… it’s about writing. That’s the great thing about having your own blog: you make the rules.

Beats Antique A Rosy Photo Edit Tutorial Contrasts Make Connectionss
Digital Ancestry - KITT Wallpaper Moth Drama Cheap Trick In Color 1998
Blogging About Blogging Photography, Technology, and Connections in the Name of Art Insect Photography Tips

Though I’m going to go on about these images, I consider this post to be about writing since all the above visuals were created specifically to promote blog posts (linked in the above images). One thing I enjoy doing to promote my posts, even though results are limited – but fun when they happen (see comments here) is to create images with text and visuals on my phone hyping the posts via Instagram.

iPhone Text Apps

I use the apps Phonto and Labelbox to overlay text onto images created using something from the posts. Having been a graphic designer for years, producing advertisements, brochures, order forms, whatever… it’s amazing to me to have not only such image editing capability at my thumbs via my iPhone, but now to be able to put together decent layouts with text as well.

It’s Like Flyers for Your Blog

I got my start in graphic design by creating flyers for my various bands’ gigs (more on that here), so whipping up these mini-promos comes naturally. I also like the limitations of the square format, the imprecise-yet-as-precise-as-allowable ethos of dragging text around with your fingertips, the instant gratification of working in such small file sizes, and the direct connection to principles of graphic design.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept…

I challenge anyone reading this who hasn’t done so to create a layout using these tools and not encounter considerations of space, hierarchy of information and typesetting (and maybe, just maybe, have fun in the process). If you do this for the first time, definitely come back here and comment with a link to your artwork and details on how you did it.

It’s part of my designer thinking to consider typography, negative space, flow and whatnot, so doing this as a complement to blog posts is a rewarding outlet. I’ve noticed a few others on Instagram doing similar stuff, and I nearly always check out the posts if the visuals are cool enough. Below are some more examples by Maddy McCoy, aka The_Real_McCoy of the MadAboutPixls blog. Great stuff there about mobile art; check ’em out.

What do you think? Would seeing visuals like this leave you inclined to click through to a blog post? Have you ever created layouts with text and images on your phone? If so, what apps do you use and what has your experience been like? Let us hear from you in the comments!