Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Quotes on How to Unblock Writer's Block

I am sharing some quotes on how to unblock writer's block that came to me in the email.

"...when you have to write every day, there's no such thing as writer's block."
- Michael Connelly

"I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer's block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done."
- Barbara Kingsolver
"If you do enough planning before you start to write, there's no way you can have writer's block. I do a complete chapter by chapter outline."
- R. L. Stine

"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day ... you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don't think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time."
- Ernest Hemingway
"If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be."
- Hilary Mantel
"Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me.  Then I can go on.  Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it,” because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work – for you or for the reader."
- Orson Scott Card
"I don't believe in 'writer's block'. I try and deal with getting stuck by having more than one thing to work on at a time. And by knowing that even a hundred bad words that didn't exist before is forward progress."
- Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quotes from Some Famous Authors on How They Write

There is no right or wrong on how a writer wants to write. It all comes down to what suits. Some people do it in the cafe, library, or wherever they can find a place to sit. Others do it at home on their computers, just as they used to do with typewriters, or in some solitary place. Some people spend time plotting out what they are going to write before they start writing while others just grab pen and paper and start writing whatever comes to mind (automatic writing). And there are some writers, such as myself, who don't have one way of writing; they have several.

Here are some quotes on how some famous authors write, which came in my email this morning:

"I write almost entirely in bed or on a couch with my feet up on the coffee table. I feel most creative when I'm looking out the window, and my bed and couch have nice views of the New York skyline."
- Gary Shteyngart

"I have a very beautiful room in my house... It's glass on three sides, and you'd think that's the perfect place to write. Somehow in that nice room I feel too exposed, and... I'm too distracted by things going on, so I end up writing in a not-very-nice office bedroom."
- Jeffrey Eugenides

"Usually I try to be there by six. Everything has been taken off the walls so that there's nothing to arrest my sight. On the bed I have Roget's Thesaurus, a dictionary, a Bible, and a deck of playing cards."
- Toni Morrison

"I wake early, often at 5 o'clock, and start writing at once."
- James Joyce

"I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else."
- Haruki Murakami

"I write my first draft by hand, at least for fiction. For non-fiction, I write happily on a computer, but for fiction I write by hand, because I'm trying to achieve a kind of thoughtless state, or an unconscious instinctive state. I'm not reading what I write when I wrote. It's an unconscious outpouring that's a mess, and it's many, many steps away from anything anyone would want to read. Creating that way seems to generate the most interesting material for me to work with, though."
- Jennifer Egan

"I don't start a novel until I have lived with the story for a while to the point of actually writing an outline, and after a number of books I've learned that the more time I spend on the outline the easier the book is to write.  And if I cheat on the outline I get in trouble with the book."
- John Grisham

"When I start to write, I don't have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come."
- Haruki Murakami
"I might spend 100 pages trying to get to know the world I'm writing about: its contours, who are my main characters, what are their relationships to each other, and just trying to get a sense of what and who this book is about. Usually around that point of 100 pages, I start to feel like I'm lost, I have too much material, it's time to start making some choices. It's typically at that point that I sit down and try to make a formal outline and winnow out what's not working and what I'm most interested in, where the story seems to be going."
- Michael Chabon

"What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’.... And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'"
- Maya Angelou

"I type in one place, but I write all over the house."
- Toni Morrison

"When I'm really involved or getting towards the end of a novel, I can write for up to ten hours a day. At those times, it's as though I'm writing a letter to someone I'm desperately in love with."
- Joyce Carol Oates

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grammar Point: Should there be a Comma Before “While”?

One point of grammar about “while” is whether or not there should be a comma before “while”. Which is the correct use?

Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
Harry was working in the garden, while Grant was mowing the lawns.

Amanda is a very nice girl while her brother Gerry is a little horror.
Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

It all comes down to what context “while” is being used for. If “while” means “at the same time”, the comma is not used. However, if “while” means “whereas”, the comma is used. So when this rule is applied to the examples above:

Correct sentence: Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
“While” in this sentence means “at the same time”, so there is no comma before it.
Correct sentence: Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

“While” in this sentence means “whereas”, so the comma is used before it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Business Expo 2016 Visit

This year's HVCC business expo was held at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. This was the largest venue yet for the expo. There was certainly more room for the expo at the stadium, though it can be a bit difficult to work out the entrance to the stadium for pedestrians. The rainy weather also made it a bit unpleasant to get to the stadium.

Once inside, there were 134 stalls, with plenty of draws and fun games for prizes. A number of the stalls were reflecting changes in the times. One stall, for example, was for a company that offered P testing services; the horrors of homes that have been used for P manufacturing are now making their mark all right. And changes in technology were also manifest; the star of the show at one stall was a robot. Most likely people would forget the stall and what it would sell, but they would remember the robot. The robot was a very popular photo opportunity, as was the Balloon Biz Mickey Mouse balloon sculpture outside the door. You could even get your photo taken with Mickey Mouse.

Some of the businesses I saw included catering, courier, gym, printing, accounting, website design, legal advice, accounting, security, civil defence, gardening, banking, business consulting, HR services, trademark creation, IT, iPhone services, pest control and Payroll. Politics also made its way in; I saw the Upper Hutt City Council and National Party having stalls there. I was a bit surprised at the absence of some businesses, such as travel agents. However, there were some new businesses that looked impressive, such as Just Plants, which can redesign your work spaces to make them more green and healthy with plant decor.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Wellington Region Business Expo 2016

The 2016 Wellington region Business Expo is going to be held on Tuesday, 20th September. This year it is going to be in Wellington itself, rather than in the Hutt Valley, and will be held at the Westpac Stadium. The Expo is going to have seminars, competitions, prize draws, networking, lots of business stalls, business breakfast, and it's all going to run from 9am to 7pm.

Quotation Mark Rules and the Legacy of Typsetting

I recently found this fascinating story of a legacy of typesetting that still creates a difference between American and British punctuation. Proofreaders have to stay mindful of it when dealing with American conventions.

In the past, compositors (people who lay out printed material with type) found that the small pieces of type would not break off the end of a sentence, so the full stops (periods in the US) and commas would not break off either. For this reason they made the rule that made the rule that full stops and commas had to be placed inside quotation marks. This rule became the convention for how to place commas and full stops in regard to quotation marks.

Then, in the 1900s the Fowlers Brothers campaigned for full stops and commas to be placed outside quotation marks, except for direct speech. This was so the grammar rules would follow logic rather than typesetting convenience. This new rule was adopted for UK English. Its advantage is that placing the full stops and commas outside quotation marks makes it clear that what is inside the quotation marks is a quote or highlighted word and not direct speech.

However, the US did not adopt the rule change. So to this day, UK English follows the rule that full stops and commas go outside quotation marks except in direct speech e.g. “That movie was terrible,” said Mark. But US English, they still go inside.

For example:

(US English) I can never remember how to spell “ecstasy.”
(UK English) I can never remember how to spell “ecstasy”.

This rule applies only to full stops and commas. In both UK and US English all other punctuation, such as semicolons, colons and dashes, always go outside quotation marks. Moreover, some American-based conventions, such as the APA reference style, have adopted the UK rule of full stops and commas outside quotation marks in order to differentiate highlighted words and quotes taken from sources from direct speech.


Friday, March 25, 2016