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17 Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 23rd, 2017 No comments

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17 Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

I first read Bird by Bird a long time ago and often recommend it to people who have a desire to write. After talking with a friend about the book recently, I thought it time to revisit and re-read the book and see what new things I might take away from it.

Unlike Big Magic, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, Bird by Bird is more of a traditional book on writing — offering direct advice, exercises and support to help you write and write better. That said, Lamott has a great way of interjecting the realities of being a writer along with a strong dose of humor to help you cope with the ups, downs, sideways and convolutions of writing a being a writer.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

On the concrete side of the writing equation, Lamott details her advice on writing using “Short Assignments” — committing to only a few hundred words detailing a particular character or scene. Just enough to get your writing — something — which can often be the most difficult part of any project.

Next is allowing yourself to write, in her words, “Shitty First Drafts. This is Lamott’s way of saying that sometimes you just have to write. We can all get tied up in trying to make every word we write perfect — the first time. Almost anyone who has ever written will tell you that this is a sure road to madness, writer’s block and worse.

An entire essay on Perfectionism follows to give some reasons and some tools to combat it and continue writing, no matter how bad you might think your project is right now.

Lamott then follows with chapters on other important aspects of writing including Set Design, Plot, Dialogue and more.

Part II of Bird by Bird, The Writing Frame of Mind is a series of in-depth essays on “Looking Around” or how better to see the world around you and use it in your writing, “The Moral Point of View” which explains how it is very difficult to complete any writing project that you don’t care passionately about — at least in some small way. You have to have the thread that drives you through your project. Something important you want to say. There is also an important section on “Jealousy” that I think is required reading for any writer. Jealousy is something we must all learn to deal with if we want to have a happy life and a successful (or at least, fun) writing career. Otherwise the “green-eyed dragon” will gobble you up with a moment’s thought.

In Part III, an essay on “Calling Around” explains how important it is for a writer to find sources for their writing — those people who can call on with specific information about world’s you may not move in, but still want to use as a setting in your writing. Lamott also details why it is so very important to find a trusted friend to read your early drafts and how you may go about finding them. Writing groups might be one solution and Lamott shares her thoughts on how important a good (and functional) group like this might be for you.

Part IV deals with the nasty bits of being a “professional”, “published” writer. It isn’t an easy life and there are a few things you need to know before you head down that road. It can be unforgiving. It can be crushing to your ego. It can also be exhilarating and dramatic and a host of other feelings.

I read Bird by Bird essay by essay in most cases. Taking time to think and digest the lesson in each section before moving on. You might also turn to (or return to) individual sections were you need a bit more support and a bit more thinking to use the lessons in your own writing.

After this re-read of Bird by Bird, I still think this is one of the foremost books for writers of all levels, but especially for those just beginning their writing journey. There is a lot of great advice, guidance, and truth in this book that can benefit everyone.

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Categories: Books, Creativity, Education, Gift Guide, Writing Tags:

16 CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 21st, 2017 No comments

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16 CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

For the technology lovers in your life — whether young or old — give them the power of exploring programming and computers in many forms. This kit gives you everything you need to get started with your Raspberry Pi today! Want to create your own interactive Internet of Things devices? Add-on the SunFounder 37 Modules Sensor Kit V2.0 to give you temperature/humidity sensors, LEDs, components and detectors of all types.

Raspi kit

  • Includes Made in UK Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) Model B Quad-Core 1.2 GHz 1 GB RAM
  • On-board WiFi and Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 32 GB Micro SD Card (Class 10) – Raspberry Pi Recommended Micro SD Card pre-loaded with NOOBS, USB MicroSD Card Reader
  • CanaKit 2.5A USB Power Supply with Micro USB Cable and Noise Filter – Specially designed for the Raspberry Pi 3 (UL Listed)
  • High Quality Raspberry Pi 3 Case, Premium Quality HDMI Cable, 2 x Heat Sinks, GPIO Quick Reference Card, CanaKit Full Color Quick-Start Guide

Add on these products to give you even more options

 
SunFounder 37 Modules Sensor Kit V2.0 Raspberry Pi Projects for the Evil Genius

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12 Show Your Work by Auston Leon | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 17th, 2017 No comments

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12 Show Your Work by Auston Leon

 Do It 2017! #: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered [Book]

My reading copy of this book came from the Los Angeles Public Library in eBook format

Reading Show Your Work was like listening to my own frequent talks on career topics. Much is exactly the same message I have preached to people for years. That is, the only way to get your work noticed is to share it as widely as possible. Music must be heard. Art must be seen. Writing must be read. Otherwise, it is a wasted effort. Share, Share, Share One message I share deeply with the author is the utmost importance of sharing your work via blogs and social media. As the author puts it, “It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” If your work can’t be discovered, stumbled upon, ran into, seen in passing, found in a Google Search, etc, you are severely limiting the exposure and discovery of your work. I don’t frequently use the word “MUST”, but I will on this occasion. You MUST make your creativity discoverable, through social media or other methods, or it simply doesn’t exist. Of course, you can ignore this if you are only creating for yourself, but most who create want their work to be seen, to be cherished, to be sold, to be understood, to be an important impact on the world. Don’t let your work languish. As the Bible says, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.”

While your at it, check out Kleon’s other book, Steal Like An Artist (see my previous blog post on this book). I think you’ll find it enjoyable and greatly useful, too. What do you have to share? What should you be showing off to your friends, family and the world? 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

10 Do the Work by Steven Pressfield | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 15th, 2017 No comments

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10 Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

I have read — and re-read — and would highly recommend you do the same. In fact, I am thinking that I will make it (and Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art) required reading before I will work with any client. Both books have helped me tremendously in my life and work. We all have to start somewhere on our creative adventures and Pressfield’s books are like an experienced guide that can help to lead us through the creative forest. Revisiting them on a regular basis reenergizes me to face the fight that all creatives feel.

Of course, creativity isn’t just the domain of some specialized class of people. We are all creative in unique ways and we all experience the haunting voice of resistance, as Pressfield names the monster that frightens all of us away from big, transformative changes in our lives. Pressfield reminds us of the nature of this beast and gives us the tools we need to defeat it — again and again.

In my work, I meet so many people who don’t realize their own potential. They drastically underestimate their power to change their lives and change the world. They face the resistance dragon and allow it to eat them nearly every time instead of emerging, triumphant, like St. George. It is often my goal to give them the tools — the horse, the lance, the sword — to help them slay the dragon of resistance just as I have to fight against it everyday. Sometimes I can bring them along with me — at other times, not, but I will never stop trying.

So, to repeat my unasked for advice — get these books, read them and then start on your own creative adventure. You can overcome resistance and create something new, something unique and something great!

The War of Art is also available from Amazon and your local public library. Add it to your creative toolbox today!

 

Do the workWar of art

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

02 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 7th, 2017 Comments off

Since so many people order their gifts online and ahead of time, I’ve decided to start my annual Gift Guide fairly early this year. This should allow you to find your favorite gifts — and perhaps recommend a few of your own wish list items to your friends and family — with enough lead time to assure they arrive in time for your holiday celebration, whichever holiday it might be!

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Could the positive thinking philosophy that is so popular be the wrong way to approach happiness in life, work and career? Maybe.

I wouldn’t have believed it myself until I read this book. Excellent writing challenges some of our greatest preconceptions about happiness. Read it and share it! — Douglas

02 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives. — Amazon

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Categories: Books, Careers, Education, Gift Guide, Products Tags:

On YouTube: The Criminal Mind: The relationships between criminology and psychology – Professor Gwen Adshead via Gresham College

October 23rd, 2017 Comments off

Another great presentation from Gresham College. Their YouTube channel is full of great talks on a wide variety of topics. I am always finding something interesting and enlightening. — Douglas

On YouTube: The Criminal Mind: The relationships between criminology and psychology – Professor Gwen Adshead via Gresham College

On YouTube: The Criminal Mind: The relationships between criminology and psychology - Professor Gwen Adshead via Gresham College

Professor Gwen Adshead explores violence, offenders and the criminal personality through the perspective of psychology and psychiatry. A discussion of how the study of psychology and psychiatry relates to the study of criminology. Historically criminals have been defined as a group who are seen as “other” to non-criminals. However, modern thinking has moved away from this with developments in the psychology of criminal rule-breaking and discussions of how individual psychology can assist the understanding of criminal rule-breaking and risk; including approaches to rehabilitation and behavioural change. Professor Adshead suggests that these different discourses have much to offer one another.

Watch other lectures and Subscribe to Gresham College on YouTube

 

Hands at work via Instagram

October 21st, 2017 Comments off

Hands at work

Hands at work

A professor’s work is never done. 

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Learn more about Black and White Photography with these books

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

 

A Minute in New Zealand – Spotted shag (Stictocarbo punctatus) [Video] (1 min)

October 12th, 2017 Comments off

A Minute in New Zealand – Spotted shag (Stictocarbo punctatus)

Spotted shags (Stictocarbo punctatus) roost on the cliff face of Taiaroa Head, Dunedin, New Zealand near the Royal Albatross Centre, the only mainland nesting site for the Royal Albatross — which also hosts tours each evening to their penguin observation platform to witness this daily event.

Learn more about the Spotted Shag at New Zealand Birds Online 

A Minute in New Zealand - Spotted shag (Stictocarbo punctatus) [Video] (1 min)


 

The Royal Albatross Centre (host to the only mainland nesting site for the Royal Albatross) provides information and provides viewing of the nesting site. It also hosts tours each evening to their penguin observation platform to witness the evening arrival of the Little Blue Penguins to their burrows..

 

Albatross logo

A visit to Dunedin is not complete without taking in the outstanding natural beauty and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula and the Royal Albatross Centre.

The Royal Albatross Centre offers wildlife and cultural tours of Taiaroa Head.  Visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross, the historic Fort Taiaroa and see the Little Blue Penguin colony at Pilots Beach. People come from all over the world to enjoy the spectacular views on the Otago Peninsula, The Wildlife Capital of New Zealand.  With its 20 km long harbour, Otago Peninsula is the home of an abundance of magnificent world famous wildlife. — Royal Albatross Centre



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Physical Communication is Universal | Andy Dexterity | TEDxSydney [Video] via YouTube

October 5th, 2017 Comments off

A great presentation on sign language and the power it can bring to artistic expression and life in general. – Douglas

Physical Communication is Universal | Andy Dexterity | TEDxSydney

Physical Communication is Universal | Andy Dexterity | TEDxSydney [Video] via YouTube

Subscribe to TedX Talks on YouTube

Andy Dexterity offers a glimpse into the ways humans communicate and interact using just our physicality. He also loves translating music and song into movement and finishes with an epic performance to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at TEDxSydney 2017.

Thanks to Queen for permission to use the song.

Animation by Brendan Harwood.

Andy Dexterity is a Green Room Award-nominated performance maker primarily recognised for his unique brand of movement, fusing dance, physical theatre and signed languages. Andy is fascinated by the way we communicate and interact as a species and creates work with the intention to connect and empower.

Hailing from a theatre background, Andy has performed roles in award-winning shows for Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia and Belvoir Street Theatre, including the Australian premieres of Urinetown and Altarboyz.

Andy conceived original “signdance” choreography for Grammy Award-winning pop singer, Kimbra, conducted the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for The Wiggles Meet The Orchestra, was special guest in the 2014 Outgames Opening Ceremony, performed “signdancing” with Tina Arena and opened the 2015 Australian Dance Awards at The Sydney Opera House. As a choreographer, he devised en-masse “signdancing” for the opening ceremony of the 2015 World Netball Cup, choreographed the Australian revival of RENT – the musical and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, both for The Hayes Theatre Company and is currently coordinating and conducting The Sydney Auslan Ensemble for The Sydney Philharmonia’s production of Elijah. As artistic director of the 2016 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Andy’s main focus was festival accessibility, incorporating Auslan (Australian Sign Language) into as many aspects as possible, including a sign language spectacular for the opening ceremony.

Andy is also an ambassador for Deaf Australia, teaching Auslan (Australian Sign Language) as a part of this role. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. 

 


* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Do It 2017 #13: Making Excuses

September 21st, 2017 2 comments

Do It 2017 #13: Making Excuses

Glenn Carstens-Peters

Do It 2017 #13: Making Excuses

“Stop Making Excuses,” is a phrase we often hear from our parents, our teachers, and even our employers. Making excuses is akin to be called lazy — a slacker — a loser. Making excuses isn’t the problem though. Failing to think deeply about why we are making the excuse is what is really required,

Yes, we all make excuses for a wide variety of reasons, myself included, but the worst part is that there is often a valid reason for the excuse. We might be missing an important skill. We might be missing the basic desire to do something. We might be fearful that we cannot do the task at hand. Typically, it isn’t the excuse that is the true reason we aren’t doing something, but rather something deeper. Something hidden. Something scarier. Something that keeps  you awake at night.

As bad as it might seem to others, we often dislike ourselves for making excuses, too. We know we aren’t doing the right thing, but it can be difficult to do the right thing, so we make the excuse so we can move on.

If you have recently offered an excuse for something, take some time to deeply think about why you made the excuse. Is there some smaller part of the issue that you can tease out and solve that might allow you to avoid the excuse in the future? Can you break the situation down into manageable chunks that you can address one at a time? If you are like me, you might surprise yourself with how many excuses you can avoid by taking them piece by piece and issue by issue.

First, do you have a good reason for learning new skills? Do you enjoy doing that kind of work? Sometimes it is the case that you simply aren’t interested in pursuing a particular area of work. If you aren’t, there is little that can persuade you to learn that new skill, much less become accomplished. Even if it might bring you better jobs or a higher income, you have to honest about where your interests lie.

If you decide you do want to learn new skills, how can you learn them? Can you go to school or training center? Maybe. Your next hurdle might be that you can’t afford to pay for school. Ok, that is indeed a reality for a lot of people. If you can’t pay for school, can you learn the skills you need online? Can you teach yourself from books? Can you ask someone knowledgeable to show you for free? Can you take out a loan – will it be worth that financial burden to obtain this skill?

The important part of breaking down any excuse is not to let one particular problem stop you. If you hit a roadblock, think about ways of circumventing that particular, smaller, issue. Attack each of the small issues in turn and see how far you can get. I think you will be surprised at how far you can progress through any excuse if you want to.

Of course, that is the real issue with any excuse. Do you really want to progress beyond the excuse, or is it simply easier, quicker, less stressful to use a blanket excuse and move on? I think for most of us — and most of our excuses, — we would feel better about ourselves if we made fewer excuses. It would have so many benefits in our lives, but it requires hard thinking to do this, and too many of us give up rather than face the hard work ahead. It is a constant challenge for all of us to see what we want and need from the future and how we can get there and not take the easy path out and make the excuse.

What is one excuse you have fallen back on lately? Can you break it down into smaller parts and slowly chip away at it? Do you even want to? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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