Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

Join an internationally bestselling children's book author and her down-home husband and their dogs as they try to live a happy, better life by being happier, better people . You can use those skills in ...more

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May 10, 2022 00:18:12
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You can totally hack into other people’s heads

You can totally hack into other people’s heads. It sounds dastardly, right? But you can tweak other people’s memories. On Mind Hacks, Heather Fishel cites the work of Dr. Jon Lieff and writes: “Once an event occurs and time moves on, it becomes a part of your memory. Each time you recall that event and its details—smells, sounds, details, and so on—you're not, in fact, remembering the original moment. Instead, you're recalling the last time you remembered that memory.” But it’s more than that. We tweak those memories to make better stories: Fishel says: “Wired writer Jonah Lehrer points out, human nature makes us love stories, and the more exciting and engaging a story is, the more we'll want to share it. As a result, when we recount our memories both internally and to others, we ignore any facts that don't suit the plot. Our minds allow us to toss aside any information that we dislike, replacing truth with pure fiction. Why? We simply want to fit in, and unless we change what we remember, our stories will suck.” We will tweak our own memories so we don’t look dumb, so we fit in, so we tell a better story, and we usually don’t even realize that we’re doing it.  And sometimes we have totally false memories. What is a false memory? According to VeryWellMind, false memories “are misremembered, distorted, or fabricated recollections of past events. Such memories can be trivial, such as mistakenly remembering where you put your car keys, but they can also be much more serious.” The big time consequences of false memories are the stuff of novels and tv shows: false convictions, financial loss, lawsuits, children dying in heated, locked ...

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May 04, 2022 00:18:16
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Pot Food at the Wedding and Positive Motivation Theory

Last week on WRITE BETTER NOW, we talked about fear for our characters as we write, and not all of you are writers, but I bet a lot of you are characters. Sorry! We couldn’t help teasing you there. Anyway, FEAR is great when it comes to writing novels and short stories and getting our characters to do things proactively on the page. But in real life? Eh . . . It can be a problem. A lot of us use fear to motivate us to do things. Sometimes we do this consciously. Sometimes we do this subconsciously. But it’s basically the act of doing things because we don’t want an outcome that we’re afraid of. Like what? We go to work because we’re afraid of losing our house to bankruptcy. We go on a diet because we’re afraid of people’s scorn if we’re at our maximum density. We are kind to our spouse when they are being a putz because we’re afraid of being alone. And all those things? They are stressful. It stresses you out if you’re always doing things because you’re afraid. And it also stresses you out if you’re always not doing things because you’re afraid. Fear may keep you employed, fit, and in a relationship (albeit a potentially toxic one), but it’s not super helpful if you’re trying to not be anxious and stressed. So, how do you motivate yourself instead? One cool way is protection motivation theory. What’s that? According to CommunicationTheory.org, “The theory therefore says that in order for an individual to adopt a health behavior, they need to believe that there is a severe threat that is likely to occur and that by adopting a health behavior, they ...

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April 27, 2022 00:12:20
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Are you really a couple if you don’t drink each other’s blood and how not to be overwhelmed

In our random thoughts we talk all about drinking each other's blood. Thanks, Megan Fox and MGK. Here's the rest of the podcast though. So, this is going to be a short podcast because we’re going to give you some super simple advice this week. Ready? BLOW OFF YOUR PHONE Your phone rings? You don’t recognize the phone number? Don’t answer it. Seriously. Every single time your phone rings and it’s not a number you know, it means it could be a spammer wasting your time. More than that though, each of those calls in an interruption that you aren’t expecting and you aren’t wanting. Even if it’s someone awesome, you aren’t in a position to deal with that call to the best of your ability. Make them leave a message. If it’s important, they will. CHECK OUR EMAILS TWO OR THREE TIMES A DAY, NOT AN HOUR The same thing goes for email programs. Don’t check it all the time. It’s a distraction. Yes, sometimes the emails are super important, but most of the time it’s Texas Tamales telling you that you have only twenty-four hours left to get a fantastic deal that includes queso. You have to prioritize your to-do list and your time. For that reason, don't check that email first thing in the morning either. Get something else that is super important done. DOG TIP FOR LIFE Constant distractions make you lose your goal. SHOUT OUT! The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.  Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free. AND we are transitioning to a new writer ...

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April 19, 2022 00:13:38
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Condoms in Easter Eggs Saying Yes and A Little Sex Talk

Some things you just don't want to say yes to like say passing out condoms in Easter eggs at your kids school, but other times? You do want to say yes. Improvisational comedians and actors know that every time they go up on the stage with no script, they are vulnerable. What if they just stand there and no ideas come? It’s the same as writers looking at a blank page. Or podcasters staring at an empty sound file. But with improvisers, they can ask the audience for ideas. “Give me a noun,” they’ll say. “Something you eat. A musical song. An emotion.” And the audience members shout things. The improv performers don’t say, “Um, gerbil? I don’t eat gerbil.” They just say yes to the ideas thrown at them, and then they create something that’s almost always funny. The secret to their success and to so many other people’s success is that they say yes when they aren’t quite ready to say yes, yet. A long time ago, a classmate from my MFA program asked me to teach a six-month program mentoring writers. I didn’t think I could do it, and I had a bit of a panic, but I said yes, and that yes has spiraled into a six-figure career teaching, editing and coaching other writers. I did every single thing I could to make sure that those writers were being served well and getting the help they need. It was the same thing when I decided to stop being a newspaper editor and get an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. I sent in the application before I could allow myself to think about it. I said yes to the idea, and ...

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April 12, 2022 00:15:52
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Stop Stomping on People

There was recently a piece by a lawyer/poet critiquing a younger, more celebritified (we made up that word) poet that caused a bit of an uproar for multiple reasons. Here’s the thing: Just because a poem doesn’t speak to you or your ‘idea’ of what a poem is doesn’t mean that it’s not a poem or that the person who wrote it isn’t a poet. One man writing about one woman doesn’t get to decide that woman is or isn't an artist or a poet no matter how adamantly he digs in his heels. One liberal doesn’t get to decide that about a conservative or vice versa. We shouldn't think we have the power to label or un-label another person. Being a critic doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole. It isn't just people on the internet though. We were walking our puppy, Pogie, and our older dog, Sparty, this weekend, and a woman Carrie often tries to avoid stopped to talk. The woman said that we needed to take our chunky, arthritic Sparty on more walks so he could lose some weight. She has no idea how many walks Sparty goes on. Disclosure: It's more than it seems. Next, she looked at our newly painted blue stairs and said, “Oh, that white splotch is still there. That's been there forever.” Then she gave our chubby dog a dog treat. A couple actually. Yes, the same woman who told us we needed to walk him more to lose weight. Here’s another thing: Being observant doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole either. People don’t need to be celebrities for other people to want to take them down, to criticize, to refuse to say one ...

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April 06, 2022 00:04:43
Don't Chunk! The Brain Science Behind Bad Exposition

Don't Chunk! The Brain Science Behind Bad Exposition

Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us. This week it’s not so much a writing tip, but a writing explanation as we dive a little deeper into why too much exposition is bad. It’s all about the human brain. But before we start, once again, exposition is just a literary device that according to Masterclass: “Is meant to relay background information about a main character, setting, event or other element of the narrative. Exposition comes from the Latin word expositionem, which literally means “showing forth.” And in a story, exposition often bores the reader or breaks up the forward motion of the plot. So why does that suck? There’s a thing called working memory. Most of our brains can only keep four or five things inside our memory at one time. That’s not super good. JUST FOUR OR FIVE THINGS! So, our brains adapted because our brains are awesome and they do this cool thing called “chunking.” As Anne Hawley, writing for Story Grid explains, “Chunking is when we group ideas so that together they occupy only one of the four or five available memory slots in our brain.”  Or the APA Dictionary of Psychology says chunking is “the process by which the mind divides large pieces of information into smaller units (chunks) that are easier to retain in short-term memory … one item in memory can stand for multiple other items”. She cites Steven Pinker who wrote The Sense of Style and gives this example: M D P H D R S V P ...

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