Manoush Zomorodi’s “Note to Self” and “Bored and Brilliant”

Photo credit: Ted Conference via CC BY-NC 2.0

My job as a back-of-the-book indexer has as a perk the chance to read books I otherwise may have never stumbled upon—and before they are published. One recent title that caught my attention is Manoush Zomorodi’s Bored and Brilliant (forthcoming by St. Martin’s Press). Zomorodi’s podcast, Note to Self, covers issues of technology from a human perspective, and Bored and Brilliant is based on a series of challenges she issued to her listeners in 2015.

While not specifically about writing, both Note to Self and Bored and Brilliant offer information and inspiration for anyone doing creative work, especially if you are seeking ideas for how to manage our 21st-century digital life. The video below offers an introduction to Zomorodi’s “Bored and Brilliant” challenge as well as her “Infomagical” series designed to help with information overload. I’d love to hear what you think and if any of the suggestions or challenges are useful in your writing life. (Watch for a TED Talk by Zomorodi coming soon, as well.)

Enjoy!


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On Overstimulation (and writing longhand)

“The worst thing for me is overstimulation. Checking e-mail manically can do it. Getting on the phone really can do it. I have learned that I must protect myself from that overstimulation and get to the page…” ~ Dani Shapiro

The words above are by author Dani Shapiro from “How I Write” in The Writer (Feb. 2011). Some distractions are just that: momentary detours from our main focus. But others are sources of overstimulation. They not only lead the mind astray, they also rev it up in unproductive ways.

My guess is that what is overstimulating for one person (a phone call, for example) may be just what is needed for someone else to get motivated, so it is useful to pay attention to our energy highs and lows throughout the day, to see what precedes them, what is overstimulating.

Writing that has “no business looking neat”

Here’s another quotation from the same piece:

“In recent years, I have started writing longhand when I’m embarking on something. There’s something about writing longhand in spiral-bound notebooks where you have to allow it to be messy. You have to cross something out as opposed to cut and paste it. There’s something about writing on the computer that can make something look neat when it has no business looking neat. I like the process of writing longhand. There’s a freedom to it…”

You can learn more about Dani Shapiro at her website (loaded with essays and interviews) and on her blog, Moments of Being.

Questions for Reflection

  • What is your experience with being under- or overstimulated in terms of writing and creativity?
  • Do you find the experience of writing longhand to be different from writing on a computer?
  • Do you ever suffer from wanting writing to be or look neat when it has no business being so?

DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series. I’ll be sharing new posts on my Facebook page. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox.

Some of My Favorite Writing Podcasts

Thank you for the suggestions so far for good books about writing. Please continue to add your favorites, and I’ll post the updated list in a week or two.

This weekend I’ll be taking a short road trip to visit family—about 5-6 hours of driving each way. In preparation, I’m downloading plenty of episodes of some of my favorite writing podcasts, listed below, which can turn any travel time into a micro retreat. What are your favorite writing podcasts?

The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn’s podcast covers “interviews, inspiration and information on writing and creativity, publishing options, book marketing and creative entrepreneurship”

New Yorker Fiction Podcast

Each month New Yorker fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, asks an author to choose and read a favorite New Yorker story, which they then discuss. One of my all-time faves.

Odyssey Writing Workshop Podcast

“[E]xcerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.” Some real gems in these short pieces.

The Writer’s Voice

“New Yorker fiction writers read their stories.”

Writing Excuses

“Writing Excuses is a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers… Our goal is to help our listeners become better writers. Whether they write for fun or for profit, whether they’re new to the domain or old hands, Writing Excuses has something to offer. We love to write, and our listeners do, too.”


DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series. I’ll be sharing new posts on my Facebook page. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox.

Writing Retreat Reading Material

What are your favorite books on writing?

I’ve been slowly doing some blog housekeeping, and one post I came across recently was a list of 37 favorite books on writing, culled from both my own list at the time (2011) and readers’ comments. Help me to update the list by adding your own favorites in the comments, below, and I’ll add them—and those mentioned in the “37” post comments—to a new list. Can we reach 50?


DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series. I’ll be sharing new posts on my Facebook page. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox.