Subordinate Clauses – a quick, sexy guide

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Subordinate Clauses - a quick, sexy guide
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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.


SUBORDINATE ME, SANTA CLAUS

Subordinate clauses are baby clauses that can’t stand all by themselves as complete thoughts and they demand a certain kind of punctuation – or lack of punctuation.

HERE ARE EXAMPLES:

If I can find Santa, then we can go party. 

We can go party if Santa ever freaking shows up. 

So, in both of those sentences there is a clause can’t stand alone as a complete thought: 

If I can find Santa

If Santa ever freaking shows up.

A subordinate clause or supporting clause is basically a clause that’s supporting the show-stopping regular clause, right? These clauses do not get a comma before them if they are at the end of the sentence. 

HOW TO DEAL

There are words that always lead off these clauses. What I do is go back and do a find/replace in my work (or client’s work) when I’m copyediting. 

Helpful hint for writers: If you include the comma in the find/replace search, it makes it so much easier. 

Those words are…

THESE CONJUNCTIONS: 

After, although, as, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, once, provided that, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, whether, while, why, for, therefore, hence, consequently, and due to.

And these relative pronouns that make the world of the clause even trickier. They are part of relative clauses but then these overachievers? Well, they are part of a subculture called restrictive or nonrestrictive clauses.

THESE ARE THE RELATIVE PRONOUNS

that, which, who, whom, whichever, whoever, whomever, and whose

ARE YOU RESTRICTIVE OR NONRESTRICTIVE MR. CLAUSE? 

These pronouns start either restrictive clauses or nonrestrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses also like to be called essential clauses because they are alpha like that, but also because they are – you guessed it – essential to the sentence meaning and shouldn’t be separated by a comma 

Do you enjoy watching Santa Claus employ lots of elves that wear sexy sweaters?

No comma before that because the sentence needs to know the qualifier for its meaning.

But in a nonrestrictive clause? Well, you don’t have that happen. Here’s an example: 

Watching Santa, who employs a lot of elves wearing sexy sweaters, is pretty freaking awesome.  

Bonus material for paid subscribers (it’s super cheap) is over on my Substack or check out how I can be your editor or writing coach at carriejonesbooks.blog


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.

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
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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 are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

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

The Big Scary Fear Monster Is Really the Rock Star of Your Novel

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The Big Scary Fear Monster Is Really the Rock Star of Your Novel
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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.


One of my favorite writing exercises is super simple. I take a bunch of novelists and ask them:

What is your protagonists more afraid of happening than anything else in the whole freaking universe?

We authors talk a lot about what our characters wants are, their yearnings, their goals, but we often forget about the dark side. Cue scary ominous music.

The fears are linked to a couple of really important things:

  1. Obstacles
  2. Motivations

Obstacles are easy. As the novel’s hero goes out in search of his goal to get his love, there are things that obstruct him. A terrorist. A snake. His sexy best friend who likes the same person. The obstacles GIVE him fear that he won’t get what he wants—the goal of the story, his perfect result, the yearning. The fear MOTIVATES him to keep trying.

But fear motivates in another way as well. When you make your character imagine the worst thing in the world—the fear can also hold him back from getting what he wants.

When you think about your character’s biggest fear, the deepest fear, the conceptual fear, the root fear, the FEAR OF ALL FEARS, you realize that it’s this fear that MOTIVATES the character. He isn’t just running to something. He’s running away from something.

Is it death? Isolation? Humiliation? Loss of wealth? Actual success? Failure? Humiliation? Aging? The big unknown?

Whatever it is, that root fear pushes your adorable character into the arms of the story, searching and working toward things that take him away from that big scary fear monster.


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.

Don’t Be Chunky – Put Your Dialogue in Paragraphs

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Write Better Now
Don't Be Chunky - Put Your Dialogue in Paragraphs
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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.


It’s a super quick writing tip again today. Ready?

When you’re writing dialogue, make every new speaker a new paragraph. If you’re writing kids books? You might as well just keep each dialogue a paragraph of their own?

Why? Our brains are wired to read each paragraph as a new speaker. If we jumble a bunch of different speakers into one paragraph, it slows down the reader’s pace of reading and also can get their brain all hitched up as they try to figure out who is talking and when.

Why else? It makes more white space on the page. The more white space on the page, the less intimidating the text is for the reader—especially the reluctant reader.

So don’t write a paragraph like this:

Carrie said, “Please support our channel.” Shaun nodded and said, “We are insecure.” “That’s true.” They laughed. Shaun added, “Wow. This is boring dialogue to prove a point.”

Instead write the paragraphs like this:

Carrie said, “Please support our channel.”

Shaun nodded and said, “We are insecure.”

“That’s true.”

They laughed.

Shaun added, “Wow. This is boring dialogue to prove a point.”

Pretty easy, right? Now we know who said “that’s true” even though there wasn’t a dialogue tag there. No readers’ brains hitched during the reading of that dialogue and all is good with the world.

For other posts about writing dialogue, check out below:


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.

Don’t Chunk! The Brain Science Behind Bad Exposition

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Chunk! The Brain Science Behind Bad Exposition
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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.


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 C E O I H O P

 If we don’t chunk those sixteen letters together, we would have a much harder time remembering them.

But we can chunk them like this:

M D  

P H D  

R S V P

C E O

I H O P

And voila! You think about the doctor and the Ph.D. who rsvp’d to the ceo of Ihop.

Amazing, right?

So, exposition inserted into our stories as an info dump? It keeps us from chunking. It makes our brain work harder and that can take our brains out of the story.

SPOILER ALERT: Be kind to readers’ brains. Most of them don’t want to be taken out of the story, but immersed in it.


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.

How to Conquer The Beast Called Exposition

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How to Conquer The Beast Called Exposition
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Exposition.

It’s a beast. And I never have a problem with it as a writer until I’m writing middle grade fiction.

This podcast we’re going to explain what exactly an agent or editor or writing coach or a teacher means when they look disdainfully down their noses at you and say, “You have too much exposition!”

Anne Hawley writes for The Story Grid:

There’s a tendency among many writers, myself included, to explain too much, and I’ve become ruthless about weeding out as much exposition as possible. So my gut reaction to the client’s question was, “None of the above. Get rid of it.”

Here are some definitions:

“Exposition is a literary device used to introduce background information about events, settings, characters, or other elements of a work to the audience or readers. The word comes from the Latin language, and its literal meaning is ‘a showing forth.’ Exposition is crucial to any story, for without it nothing makes sense.” Literary Devices.net

“Exposition means facts—the information about setting, biography, and characterization that the audience needs to know to follow and comprehend the events of the story.” —Robert McKee, Story (p. 334).

Over on Carrie’s new substack newsletter, we’ll share some examples of this.

So, while some exposition is allowed in a story, it’s something you want to clean up as much as possible. You want to be in the scenes with the characters as much as you can and this is especially true in the very beginning and that last third of the novel.

That’s because in the beginning the reader needs to be immersed so that they’ll keep reading and hooked along. In the end that’s because the reader has stayed with you for all these words and now they want to have the big emotional payoff. That doesn’t happen with exposition. That happens when you’re immersed in the scene.

Exposition can be ALL THESE THINGS SO LOOK HERE:

  1. Just an info drop where the narrator is telling (not showing a bunch of information).
  2. Too much internal dialogue for too long.
  3. Flashbacks.
  4. Dialogue sometimes. I know, right? Dialogue is action, but sometimes dialogue is an info dump particularly when a villain is explaining their motives or in science fiction or fantasy when a character is explaining the world to the noob.
  5. Letters pulled out or emails and presented as a block. Read it with the character instead.
  6. Those long, long paragraphs where you go on forever and ever describing setting and senses.

Hawley also has this great example:

Let’s go to the mall,” Heather said.

Imani thought back to the last time she had been to the mall. The terror she had felt at the sound of the first shot fired, the screams of people fleeing for their lives, the crash of displays falling over as customers dove under racks and counters for cover. It had been the worst day of her life.

“I don’t want to go,” Imani replied.

However vivid Imani’s recollection is in that middle paragraph, it does little to reveal her character. It explains some things about Imani, but it’s an info-dump—a Big Block of Explanation.

The block interrupts the action—that is, the dialogue between Heather and Imani—by referring you to a past whose details may or may not be relevant at this point in the story. Here’s what happens in your brain:

You expend energy time-jumping to Imani’s past.

You process terror, shots fired, screams, crashes, and people diving under racks. By the time you get to Imani’s response, all your memory slots are engaged, and you’ve lost sight of what Heather said.

So you expend more brainpower backtracking in the text to remind yourself of Heather’s initial suggestion.

Exposition? It’s a beast and it’s a beast that keeps your reader from being immersed. We’ll talk about it more again soon, but the first step to battling this monster? It’s knowing where to look.

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.

Three Hot Tips To Make Awesome First Pages

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Three Hot Tips To Make Awesome First Pages
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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.


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.

The Simplest Writing Tip to Make You a Better Writer

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Write Better Now
The Simplest Writing Tip to Make You a Better Writer
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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.


Here’s a really simple writing tip to make you a better writer.

I (Carrie) talk a lot to my writers about distancing words, which are words in writing that keep the reader away from the action. Those are words like:

  • Saw,
  • Heard,
  • Noticed,
  • Smelled,

And they take away from the immediacy of the story.

A writer will write:

Carrie heard the bomb explode.

And the reader will be one extra step away from the experience. Instead, you could write:

The bomb exploded.

Or:

A massive bomb shook the area outside the Boston Panera. Glass shattered from the front window, instant projectiles stabbing into pavement, cars, flesh.

It depends on how in depth you want to go, but either example is more intense than “Carrie heard the bomb explode.”

So, a sub category of those distancing words that you want to get rid of in your writing are “thought” verbs.

Those are words like:

  • Thinks,
  • Loves (sometimes)
  • Knows,
  • Understands,
  • Realizes,
  • Hates (sometimes)
  • Believes,
  • Wants,
  • Remembers.

Why shouldn’t we use those words?

It’s pretty lazy. You’re a writer trying to build this entire world and experience for a reader and to do that you have to give concrete examples of what’s going on in that world, to bring the reader in and create immediacy.

You build that world piece by piece, laying out the details the way someone lays out an argument trying to convince you of something.

We’ll give you a quick example.

Shaun loves Carrie.

Yeah. Okay. Right? Maybe we believe it. But what if we wrote:

Every morning, Shaun padded down the stairs in his gym shorts, large, pale feet cold against the wood floor and filled the electric kettle, turning it on to boil. And every morning about ten minutes after Shaun started the tea, turned up the heat, let the dog out into the snowy yard to do his business, Carrie made it down the stairs too, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Shaun held out the mug of tea. “Be careful, baby. It’s hot.”

         He said that same thing every morning.

         And then he’d wink.

We now know that Shaun’s love language is acts of service and he’s giving those acts to Carrie that ungrateful woman. 🙂

Writing isn’t about shortcuts and abstractions. It’s about details, evidence, and communicating a world bit by bit. When you get rid of those abstractions and add those details, the evidence, when you SHOW the reader what’s going on rather than TELLING them? That’s when you become great.


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.

Never Shut Up: You Get To Write History

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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.

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 are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

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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