Huck the Roof Dog and Defining Happiness Doggy Style

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Huck the Roof Dog and Defining Happiness Doggy Style
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Every once in awhile, a dog climbs on the roof of a house and chills out, but if you’re Huck the dog, you do this all the time. How often? So often that your owner has to put a sign on the door.

Join us as we talk about Huck and also about defining happiness, doggy style.


Have you ever come home and been like, “Dang, why is my dog so happy?”

In general dogs are really pretty cool happy animals. And they are amazing because unlike some of us (cough) they don’t hide how they feel. It’s all just out there.

According to Global Dog Breeds, the reasons dogs are so happy are these:

  • They forgive
  • They live in the present
  • They are happy with what they have right there, right now.
  • They embrace life.
  • They know how to get cozy and comfy.
  • They trust their owners. 

Carrie’s taking a pretty cool course for free on EdX (sadly, this is not an ad) all about happiness and it’s taught by Arthur Brooks, a professor at Harvard. And all these things about why dogs are happy made her think about that class and some of the teachings from it.

Brooks says,

“It turns out that the way we think about happiness is informed by where we live. For example, in some cultures, happiness is defined by social harmony. In others, it’s defined by personal achievement. So the way we answer the question are you happy depends, to an extent, on where we’re from.”

Brooks interviewed the Dalai Lama and his Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso shared the following (the quote is taken directly),

“I think very purpose of our daily life. For happy life, firstly, we need some sense of oneness of 7 billion human being on this planet. We have to live together. An individual’s future depends on them, one individual, one of the 7 billion human beings in the group know that.”

Brooks summarizes his points as follows,

“The first is he taught us tonight that happiness comes from being useful and having a life’s purpose, and that purpose, the purpose that we have, our highest purpose is caring for each other, lifting each other up, remembering that each of us is one of 7 billion human beings.

The second way that he made this point is when he talked about unhappiness, which is our own creation.

Unhappiness comes in our own mind because of self-centeredness.

We become unhappy because we’re unnatural, and we are unnatural whom we are thinking only of ourselves. We can only be truly happy when we get out of this creation that is unhappiness by focusing on other people.

The third point that he made was about our intellectual lives, about research and investigation, about our brains, and the importance of sanctifying our intellectual work by putting it in service of our hearts, putting it in service of our love for other people, that in fact, our hearts can be most effective when our brains are fully engaged in the purpose, sanctifying that purpose and loving each other.

And finally, the fourth way that His Holiness made this point that happiness comes from love for others is that we need education, that we need an education system that teaches each of us unity and oneness and sisterhood and brotherhood. And that is our leadership challenge.”

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Brooks and the Dalai Lama wrote,

“The objective is not to vanquish a person I considered my enemy; it is to destroy the illusion that he or she was my enemy in the first place. And the way to do this is by overcoming my own negative emotions.

Perhaps taking that approach seems unrealistic to you, like a kind of discipline only a monk could achieve through years of concentrated meditation. But that isn’t true. You can do it, too, regardless of your belief system. The secret is to express warmheartedness, kindness and generosity, even in disagreement — and especially when others show you contempt or hatred.”

How do you do that when it feels like other people are taking away yours or others essential human rights? Or putting lives at stake? Or creating or revoking or refusing to revoke polices (be it about guns, abortions, clean water, property rights) that you feel are essential?

That’s really the question.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/11/dalai-lama-arthur-brooks-each-us-can-break-cycle-hatred/

XIV, Dalai Lama, and Cutler, Howard C. The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living. Penguin Publishing Group, 2009, 294.

Course: “Managing Happiness,” HarvardX, accessed June 27, 2022.

“Why Are Dogs So Happy.” No author stated. Global Dog Breeds.

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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

You are so biased so how do you stop it

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
You are so biased so how do you stop it
/

There’s this guy named Sid who wrote about cognitive biases over on Medium. Sid got me thinking about all the ways we make decisions based on wrong assumptions or biases.

He lays out ten, right?

And I just wanted to talk about the first two this week and maybe make this a series.

Why?

Well, because as Sid says, “Being aware of our cognitive biases helps to recognize their power in shaping our thoughts, opinions, attitudes and the decisions we make. Let’s check out these effects by analyzing ten cognitive biases that shape our world today.”

So, those first two are:

The Availability Heuristic

The Affect Heuristic.

Let’s start with the first one.

The availability heuristic

 According to the Decision Lab, the availability heuristic is a bias that “describes our tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly and easily when making decisions about the future.”

It’s basically memorable moments that are made influence our decisions in ways that they shouldn’t.

The decision lab has a great example.

“Imagine you are considering either John or Jane, two employees at your company, for a promotion. Both have a steady employment record, though Jane has been the highest performer in her department during her tenure. However, in Jane’s first year, she unwittingly deleted a company project when her computer crashed. The vivid memory of having lost that project likely weighs more heavily on the decision to promote Jane than it should. This is due to the availability heuristic, which suggests that singular memorable moments have an outsized influence on decisions.”

And this sucks because bad memories are easier to remember than good ones. And that means we aren’t making our decisions logically.

This happens because our brains need shortcuts. We like shortcuts because it’s less energy. So we recall the strongest facts, the most biggest memories.

The first step to avoid this bias is to know it exists, right, and maybe have a baby pause before we make our decision and think about why we’re making it.

The Affect Heuristic

According to the verywellmind,

“The affect heuristic is a type of mental shortcut in which people make decisions that are heavily influenced by their current emotions.1 Essentially, your affect (a psychological term for emotional response) plays a critical role in the choices and decisions you make.”

It’s another shortcut. And it’s about how good or bad something or someone feels.

They give this example:

“Imagine a situation in which two children arrive at a local park to play. One child has spent a lot of time playing on swings at a neighbor’s house, so he has nothing but positive feelings when he sees the swing set at the park. He immediately makes the decision that the swings will be fun (high benefit, low risk) and runs to play on the swings.

“The other child, however, recently had a negative experience while playing on the swings at a friend’s house. When he sees the swings at the park, he draws on this recent negative memory and decides that the swings are a bad choice (low benefit, high risk).”

Basically, we aren’t relying on facts to make choices; we’re relying on emotions. Politicians and retailers know this and use fear to influence decisions because fear is a really strong emotion.

Jerks, but clever jerks.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE


Don’t just always make automatic decisions. Pause. Sniff. Figure out where those decisions are coming from.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT PYTHAGORAS


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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Pot Food at the Wedding and Positive Motivation Theory

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
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 can effectively reduce the threat. The individual should also be convinced that he is capable of engaging in the behavior which should not cost him a lot.”

Wait, doesn’t that sound like some fear-based motivation?

A bit. But a big part of it is that there is both a threat appraisal and a coping appraisal.

As the Warbleton Council writes

1. Threat assessment

Fear of illness or injury predisposes to act (for example, when you are smoking and coughing a lot).

In turn, this element is made up of the perception of severity (the possible harm to be suffered) and susceptibility (the level of risk the person is at), in addition to the intrinsic benefits of risky behavior.

2. Assessment of coping behavior

It is the probability of success perceived by the person, that is, the perception they have that their response will be effective in reducing the threat, in addition to the perception of self-efficacy (the person will be able to adopt preventive measures).

These variables will provide in the person a perspective on the costs and benefits of performing the behavior.

When you appraise the threat and coping mechanisms, you start to figure out if you should make change and what amount of changes you should undergo.

The Communication Theory article breaks all this down pretty brilliantly, so you should check it out, but it’s about intention and how you keep yourself safe and change your behavior when you perceive threats.

There’s a fascinating article about this theory and food purchasing behavior during COVID-19 and our shopping habits.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Just go for it, damn it. No fear.

LINK WE MENTION IN RANDOM THOUGHTS

https://www.ladbible.com/community/bride-slammed-for-entering-wedding-walking-groom-on-a-leash-20220423

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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Condoms in Easter Eggs Saying Yes and A Little Sex Talk

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
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 it was only after I sent in that application that I realized that Vermont was pretty much the Harvard of children’s writing programs. Whoops.

I panicked when I got on campus, overwhelmed by people, tried to leave, stuck it out and within a year had three books under contract.

But this podcast isn’t all about me. It’s about you. And maybe even Shaun.

You can always let your fears overwhelm you, be risk averse, be terrified of failure, of losing your life’s savings, of ending up living in a car. But you only have one big chance at this life and your dreams.

You have to say yes before you’re ready because you’ll never be ready.

Say yes.

Say yes to things that make you a tiny bit afraid.

Say yes to things people don’t expect you to do or be or care about.

Say yes to making new friends and exploring new places.

Say yes to pushing yourself a little or a lot beyond your expectations.

Don’t let anyone else define you. Only you get to define you, okay?

So define yourself as someone who explores, who lives, who says yes.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Say yes to playing with puppies. They need love, too.

Pogie and Sparty

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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

MAKE FRIENDS LIKE YOU ARE A DAMN FLAMINGO

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
MAKE FRIENDS LIKE YOU ARE A DAMN FLAMINGO
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Here’s the thing: A lot of us are lonely. Really lonely.

And making friends? As an adult? It can feel kind of scary.

Why does this matter? Well, Sherri Gordon on Very Well Mind cuts right to the chase:

“Research shows that after the age of 25, most adult friendships start to dwindle.1 Of course, some of this has to do with changing jobs, getting married, moving, and even having children.

“Forming meaningful relationships may be harder as you get older, but it’s well worth the effort. Good friendships have a myriad of benefits, including:2

  • Better immune functioning
  • Decreased risk of disease, illness, and injury
  • Increased longevity
  • Reduced stress
  • Speedier recovery when sick.”

We want all that for you, so we’re here with some advice on how to make friends

Check out the people you work with

One great way to make friends according to Dr. Miriam Kiramyer, a clinical psychologist interviewed by Emily Burns for The Cut is:

“We all have workplace acquaintances that we know deep down could be something more. Dr. Kirmayer suggests taking the leap to growing those relationships. Find a common denominator you can bond over, like a shared hobby or interest! You don’t have to talk about work. “Making an effort to gradually open up about different parts of your life, that can help to deepen that sense of connection,” said Kirmayer. Talk about your life, what you like to do in your free time, etc. Perhaps set up a Zoom coffee chat with your fave colleague or schedule a hangout with the neighbor you always joke with in the hallway.

Very Well Mind has a slew of suggestions, but one that resonated with us is:

“Reach Out to Neighbors

“Many people don’t realize they have a potential friend living right next door or across the street. They give the courtesy wave and immediately close their door, not even trying to start a conversation. But there may be some really great friendships waiting for you right next door. So the next time you are both out, do more than just wave.”

And then there is . . .

Be Brave

You have to be brave (especially if you have social anxiety or are an introvert) to put yourself out there and ask someone to go have coffee or take a walk. It’s like dating. You can feel rejected. But even if you are? And they say no? Be proud. You were brave and that poor bugger is missing out.

Friendship is hard and it takes work. Friendship isn’t about instant gratification. It’s about time and connection. It’s about sticking it out even when your friend is a twerp. And social media? It makes us feel connected and isolated all at once because it takes up a lot of time that we used to use for hobbies and hanging out in real time.

I think our favorite piece of advice is actually from Psychology Today where Andrea Brandt writes:

“Seek, and you will find

“You know how you won’t meet new people? By living every day like it’s identical to the previous one and not mixing up your routine at all. A strategy with a high-return rate is to go places or do things you enjoy and see who you meet there. If you like to read, join a book club. If you’re more physically oriented, join a gym or take a class in a new sport: golf, tennis, tai chi. The more it involves interacting with other people, the better.”

So there you go. Be brave. Look for people. Reach out.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

We have a new puppy in the house. Sparty could chose to be friends or not. He’s still deciding. Sometimes it’s okay to be picky.

LINKS

https://www.foxnews.com/category/odd-news


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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency
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There’s an Anne Lamott quote that says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes—including you.”

And that’s a lovely quote and quite true in so many instances, but also sometimes? Sometimes it can feel next to impossible to unplug.

Sometimes that unplugging has to be a dramatic event where you realize that you have to rescue yourself from the habits that are controlling your life, or the people controlling your life and you have to actually take your own control of your life.

I know! I know! Terrifying.

But the first question is: how do you actually take control over your life?

Over at the greatergood, there are some potential possibilities that we’re going to share here. It’s a great article written by Anthony Rao and Paul Napper back in 2019.

Controlling Stimuli

They write:

“Agency begins with what you let into your mind—meaning what comes in from your environment. If you are lacking agency, it’s likely your attention is being hijacked and you need to figure out how to restore it.”

A phone next to you when you’re reading? It’s probably going to distract you, they say. But walking outside? It lets your brain recharge.

Same thing with email notifications. 

Another thing they suggest is . . .

“Associate Selectively”

They write:

“It’s impossible not to be affected by those around us—it’s easy to “catch” their emotions, for example, and our brains tend to synch up when we associate with other people. That means you should set boundaries with difficult people, disentangle yourself from negative online interactions, and be more conscious of how you might be vulnerable to “groupthink”—pressures to behave or think in ways that are contrary to your values.”

How do you do that when that person is your kid? It’s a good question. But they suggest making sure you have a lot of interactions with people who want to help you cultivate your skills and talents, grow to your potential, and help you with your positive beliefs. Volunteering and just chatting can help.

Move Around

Get up. Off the couch. Off the chair. Stretch. Walk. Dance. As often as possible.

Learn

They write: “People with high levels of agency are continually learning more and expanding their capacity to learn by adopting a more open, collaborative approach to everything in life.”

There’s a whole lot more we’ll talk about next week too, but for this week, try this:

  1. Put your phone in another room while you work.
  2. Go outside and walk if you can.
  3. Get up every 40 minutes and move around for five. Set a timer.
  4. Chat with someone positive or sign up to volunteer somewhere.
  5. Sign up for a free class or even listen to a podcast like this. Take some time to learn something.

And think about this:

“You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind,” Anne Lamott says in a TedTalk about being sixty-one. “It’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers.”

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Bark. Communicate your needs and sometimes the neighbor will bark back and you’ll feel less lonely.

Sparty

LINKS WE USE IN THE PODCAST

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_feel_more_in_control_of_your_life

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/help-i-found-a-weird-way-to-calm-the-dog-next-door-my-neighbor-is-furious-about-it/ar-AAVAHvE

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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Three Hot Tips To Make Awesome First Pages

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Three Hot Tips To Make Awesome First Pages
/

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.


Carrie has been talking to a lot of her authors lately about the beginning of their stories and how to make them awesome. And Carrie has a lot of tips for the writers she works with, but we’re going to be fast here.

Make it Tense AF

You don’t want to make readers in our time wait for the good stuff. Nobody is into waiting right now. It’s all instant gratification all the time. This is even true for most books. Too many details. Too much setting or exposition. And too little tension means that readers aren’t going to want to read on. Your first page should make the reader ask a question that they want the answer to.

Show Us What Your Book and Character Are About

This tip really means we want to see the core of your character and what they are yearning for on the very first page. If your book is a mystery, let us see it. If your book is an erotic novel about a hamster and a gerbil, we need to know that, too. The first thing the reader sees your main character doing? That shows the reader who that character is. If she’s running to rescue someone because she hears yelling? That tells us something about her. If she’s running away because she hears yelling? That tells us something about her, too.

Show Us Where They Hell We Are

Nothing is more annoying than a book that has no grounding elements. Let us readers know where the characters are hanging out. Are we in this century? This world? A cold climate? A warm one? What part of the year is it? Let the reader know where your characters are.

Bonus Tip: You don’t want a prologue unless you really need it and you probably don’t need it. We know! We know! It’s super sexy to start with all that backstory instead of trying to expertly twist it into the forward-moving scenes. But it’s also super lazy. And agents don’t like them if you’re trying to get traditionally published.

Spoiler: You can’t just give up after the first ten pages. You want to make sure that your whole book is fantastic and keeps hooking the reader and making them want to read more.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better.

Stuff a Crossbow Down Your Trousers and Be Your Own Guru

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Stuff a Crossbow Down Your Trousers and Be Your Own Guru
/

When we follow people—be the authors or internet gurus all about self-help or celebrities or influencers, we only see one side of who they are: the shiny side.

We see the end product of a book, a video, a photo, a blog post, a speech, but we don’t see the day-to-day humanity behind that. We consume the product, become devoted to the person, even sometimes think we’re friends with the person, and sometimes even think the things in their lives belong more to us than to them.

And that’s pretty interesting, right?

Cooking with a Writer Black Bean Soup Recipe
Fingers are yummy!

Last week our dog, Gabby, died and because Gabby is a big part of Carrie’s message and social media, she posted that Gabby had passed. So many people were lovely and kind and expressed so much sympathy because Gabby presented something good in their lives and because they were kind and had empathy because they’d been through loss, too.

But one person sent a message that said they were still really sad about Gabby and that Carrie may still be struggling. And that? That one little word ‘may,’ when combined with their statement about being really sad? It made us stop and think even though we know this person is absolutely lovely and only has the best of intentions.

Still, it was our dog that died, but we were the ones who may still be struggling?

We are no Tim Ferris or Kardashian or Tony Robbins or Anne Lamott, but our lives are real and not just consumption for others. We get joyous, desperately sad, grieve, make massive mistakes, and sometimes even do things incredibly right.

Sometimes when we follow others, we forget that those other people are people and sometimes we forget that we are people too.

We are all intrigued by the personality and human aspects behind the people we follow, be they entrepeneurs, philosophers, influencers, or Kardashians. But that doesn’t mean that we should forget that they are humans with whole teams sometimes helping them create a product.

You don’t need to be a product.

And you don’t need to feel bad about yourself if you aren’t an influencer or don’t have a massive following or don’t have beautifully curated Instagram photos.

You aren’t a product and even those famous people aren’t products. We are all humans, figuring things out as we go. We don’t need to imitate a Kardashian to be happy or to channel our inner Tony Robbins or Oprah or Anne Lamott or Jayson Reynolds. We need to define what it is that we truly want in life. If you are overwhelmed by the death of someone else’s dog, you might want to find more love in your life. If you are angry about something your town council did, you might want to be elected to a position where you can change things. If you are sad that other people are getting books published, you might want to start spending some time writing your own book.

Success is not about not eating carbs, wearing the right make-up, putting on the booty enhancers, and drinking a certain kind of energy drink. Success is about defining who you are, what you believe in, how you want to live your life. That’s not something you can imitate. It’s something you have to be. You have to choose to be who you are, not who the gurus want to be. You have to choose to live your life, not live through others.

That takes work sometimes, deep thought, and the ability to look inside yourself at what you want to be and who you are right now. It means letting go of past mistakes and moving toward a human-focused and humanity-focused present and future. It takes love, damn it. And the first step is loving yourself. Oprah, Kardashians, Ferris, Robbins, Reynolds are all probably great humans, but they aren’t you. And you? You’re just as great or maybe even greater. You just have to believe in yourself enough to let that greatness out.

Dog Tip For Life

best podcast Dogs are Smarter Than People
Follow your own nose

Follow your own nose. Be your own dog. – Sparty

RANDOM THOUGHTS LINKS

https://news.sky.com/story/florida-man-arrested-after-stealing-a-crossbow-by-stuffing-it-down-his-trousers-12550364

https://nypost.com/2022/03/01/im-in-love-with-a-couple-after-matching-with-both-on-dating-app/

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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Never Shut Up: You Get To Write History

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Never Shut Up: You Get To Write History
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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.


What is your story? Really? It’s more than you’re a writer. You’re a citizen of your community, your country, your world. You might be a certain race, religion, a sex (or not). You might have a faith, an economic status, a job. You might have hobbies, traits.

But you might not think you have a story especially when you see huge events unfolding in the world. You might think that your voice doesn’t matter, that your viewpoint doesn’t either. You might be used to people shouting you down when you say things they might not agree with or don’t want to hear.

This week we wanted to touch on how big events happen and we find them so harrowing and we think: Who am I to tell this story? I’m not in the Ukraine. I’m not on the frontlines of human rights struggles in Texas or Florida or China. I am not this or I am not that.

But here’s the thing. We are all witnesses or witnesses of witnesses. We all are a part of this world and the moments of this world. And we all get to tell our moments and our stories if we want to. Perspective and voice doesn’t just belong to people in power and it doesn’t not belong to people who see, who can testify, who can witness.

In Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction, Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola write, “Our role as writers can be that of witness. … Think of yourself as a witness and your writing will take on greater weight and urgency.”

Daisy Hernandez has a great essay where she comes to terms with her aversion to the term ‘witness’ when it comes to literature.

She writes (link below):

“While it may well be that no book has ever prevented genocide or fascism, we still have a necessity for literature to testify to the political conditions of our lives—not only so that we might have a record of those we have lost, but also that we might have a reason to gather with others to read and to continue resisting.”

She prefers the term ‘testimony.’

“In contrast to witness, I love the word testimonio, testimony. I love how it sounds: serious and engaged, aware of itself. Intentional. It says: I have made a decision, and I am here to testify.”

Intention is important. Connections are important. And so are authentic narratives. We learn by story, but we also learn how to be human via stories.

Connections happen because humanity happens. And even if you think that you’re not an important piece to the story that unfolds, you are. We all come through things through our own psychographics and demographics and bubbles and experiences. Each piece and understanding of the stories of our times matter.

George Sand wrote,

“Everyone has his own story, and everyone could arouse interest in the romance of his life if he could but comprehend it.”

Here’s the thing: There are enough buttheads out there in the world trying to prevent people from having a voice and trying to keep others from hearing that voice. It could be a company or government censoring tweets, political statements, books. It could be an ideological group banning books. It could be a sibling shouting at you to “Shut the hell up” when you talk about feminism.

But you can’t. You must not shut the hell up. As long as you can fight, fight. As long as you can write, write. As long as you can survive, survive.


Here are a couple of exercises adapted from Tell It Slant

What event (national or world) do you remember super well? How did you know about it? Were you there? Were you not there? Where were you when you heard about that event? What in your life resonated because of it? Write about it.

What part of you do people think is cool? When you meet people and they are socially aware enough to ask you questions, what do they want to know? Now, imagine your life the way someone two hundred in the years in the future would find interesting. What bits of history would they want to know about? Write about that.


American University has some great writer as witness texts, but there are so many more, but here are some to start you off.

Previous Writer as Witness Texts

  • Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, by Eli Saslow, winner of the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction Category
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, National Book Award finalist
  • We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, by Jeff Chang, the Northern California Nonfiction Book of the Year
  • Notes from No Man’s Land, by Eula Biss, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
  • The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel, a “Best Book of the Year” for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and others, and the winner of the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.
  • The Devil’s Highway: A True Story, by Luis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and winner of the Lannen Literary Award.
  • Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

LINK WE MENTION

https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2021/01/11/literature-of-witness/ideas/essay/


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better.

To Hell With Goals. Sort Of. How To Find The Best Habits

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
To Hell With Goals. Sort Of. How To Find The Best Habits
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A lot of people give up on things because they focus on goals.

Their goal is:

  1. Write 50,000 words by April.
  2. Lose 20 pounds before the wedding.
  3. Have $100,000 in the bank by January.

Goals are lovely. Goals are sexy. Goals work brilliantly for some people, but for some of us goals are absolute bullshit.

I know this. Yet I still fall into the goal trap all the time. If I don’t lose twenty pounds and only 19.5, I feel like I’ve failed. If I only write 49,998 words, I feel like I’ve failed. And I’m not even going to talk about the bank thing.

That’s because goals are all or nothing. You get them or you don’t.

Habits though? Habits are an author’s and a human’s best friend. Habits are amazing and good ones? They create other good ones.

Charles Duhigg wrote,The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. And in it he talks about keystone habits and how if we understand habits, we can figure out how to kick ass, basically.

He wrote in an interview:

“Take, for instance, a bad habit I had of eating a cookie every afternoon. By learning how to analyze my habit, I figured out that the reason I walked to the cafeteria each day wasn’t because I was craving a chocolate chip cookie. It was because I was craving socialization, the company of talking to my colleagues while munching. That was the habit’s real reward. And the cue for my behavior – the trigger that caused me to automatically stand up and wander to the cafeteria, was a certain time of day.

“So, I reconstructed the habit: now, at about 3:30 each day, I absentmindedly stand up from my desk, look around for someone to talk with, and then gossip for about 10 minutes. I don’t even think about it at this point. It’s automatic. It’s a habit. I haven’t had a cookie in six months.”

Duhigg

As a writer, people always ask me how I’m so productive. It’s because I usually write every day. That’s my habit. I was a much better drawer when I drew every day. I was a much healthier human when I exercised every day. And so on. Some habits have great rates of return (like lifting weights, walking) and some don’t (binging Tiger King). The key is to find the habits that help you toward your goals.

They call these habits, keystone habits, which LifeHack defines as:

“In literal terms, a keystone habit is any small change or habit that has a domino effect in your life. You focus on adding the habit to one aspect of your life but determination helps carry this habit to the other aspects of your life too.

“Each keystone habit has three main characteristics:

  1. They lead to the development of other habits
  2. Every habit adopted from a keystone habit is positively affiliated with the keystone habit
  3. These habits are small and easy

“Let’s take an example of a person who wants to improve the way he handles his emotions. He’ll start by visiting a therapist who helps him understand what goes on in his mind. Once he begins understanding his emotions himself, he’ll want an outlet to release these thoughts. So, he starts journaling. Journaling helps him put out his emotions in a structured manner on paper. This will help him get better at communicating in their workplace too.”

Working toward those goals in smaller increments (thirty-day habit forming cycles) is also pretty key because it seems doable and according to most research those thirty-day stints help us get the habit ingrained into our psyches.

Some Awesome Habits

Cooking

Making your own food is way healthier and way more rewarding. Yes, it takes time, but if you can do it, do it. There are some great sites with 15-minute dinners. That’s less time than it takes to wait at McDonald’s lately.

Exercise

I know! I know! No brainer, right? Start slow. Do something easy every day for that first month. Build from there.

Reading

Seriously. Step away from the screen. Read something in long form. Build your brain.

Writing

Making your thoughts make sense? Giving yourself some time with them? It’s pretty golden.

Chilling with other people

Yep. We have to remember how to interact in real life. Form those bonds.

Meditating or praying

Spiritual connections and purpose really help people. I swear.

LINKS TO RANDOM THOUGHT SOURCES

https://www.wonkette.com/confused-gop-boomer-rep-pretty-sure-pesky-millennials-caused-russian-invasion


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 have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems
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