Om Malik: showing us how it’s done

Om Malik

Dave Winer paid tribute to Om Malik on Twitter. I shared my perspective in reply and it seemed wrong to leave my response just as a tweet so I thought I’d re-post my response here too:

@Om is an inspirational blogger/writer. One of a very small group of people who represent what makes a blog such a wonderful medium (you too, sir). When I think about how to be a better blogger and writer, Om is usually the first person I look to for inspiration.

Here is the Twitter thread:

Photo credit: Om Malik by Christopher Michel, licensed CC BY 2.0

Celebrating Women in Tech with the awesome #WITBragDay meme

Three women in technology collaborating with laptops

My favourite meme at the moment is the awesome #WITBragDay meme on Twitter that celebrates women in tech. It seems to have been started by Alice Goldfuss with her tweet:

The result is tweet after tweet of pure inspiration from women in the technology industry. I spent some time reading tweets this morning when I woke up and I found myself smiling because these stories are just awesome.

These women, and others like them, are the perfect response to the odious Damore memo. These stories are also the stories I want both our kids to know, especially our daughter. Heck, these stories inspire me as I learn to code. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:

I’ve created a Twitter Moment for the tweets I love the most. You can find that here too (it may be more complete and up to date):

Image credit: The #WOCinTech collection on Flickr, licensed CC BY 4.0

You can read more about the #WOCinTech project here too: “#WOCinTechChat – Promoting diversity in tech through stock photos

Facing a blank page

A blank page can be a little intimidating as a writer. Staring at a blank page and being unable to fill it with something intelligible is a common experience of writer’s block, the bane of most writers. I say “most” because there are probably some writers who find the challenge of writer’s block to be just the thing they need to break through it.

I’m not one of those writers.

Lately I’ve realized that despite all the writing that I do in my day job, I don’t do much personal writing. When I realise this and decide to start writing more frequently, I go utterly blank.

Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. I have ideas that I want to write about but they seem to fade awfully quickly and seem silly the next day so I shelve them.

One of my most effective muses when I do write is my collection of feeds and I came across a very appropriate item that I want to share. Brain Pickings has a post titled “Facing the Blank Page: Celebrated Writers on How to Overcome Creative Block” that includes a video with snippets of interviews from various writers about the dreaded blank page:

It is a highlights video drawing on a series of slightly longer interviews with each writer that were published by the Louisiana Channel on YouTube:

I think I resonated most with Philipp Meyer’s and Lydia Davis’ thoughts about the blank page but each interview is worth watching if you, like me, find yourself staring at a blank page frustratingly often.

You can find the Brain Pickings post with selected quotes here:

Facing the Blank Page: Celebrated Writers on How to Overcome Creative Block

Image credit: Pixabay

A brand new ending

Prince Ea published an inspiring video titled “Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives” (YouTube version) which is worth a few minutes of your time. One phrase stands out for me: “A brand new ending”. Regardless of how we began our lives and the challenges we have faced, we can still create our brand new ending.

Image credit: Pixabay

“… something as wondrous as writing.”

"... something as wondrous as writing"

I read an article about Susan Orlean on Brain Pickings this morning and love this quote from her about writing:

You have to appreciate the spiritual component of having an opportunity to do something as wondrous as writing. You should be practical and smart and you should have a good agent and you should work really, really hard. But you should also be filled with awe and gratitude about this amazing way to be in the world.

You can read “Susan Orlean on Writing” in full here:

Susan Orlean on Writing

I started following her on Twitter and her tweets make for a fun read too if you don’t have the time to read her articles or books.


Image credit: Pixabay

My favourite writing advice

Brain Pickings has a wealth of writing advice in the form of a great post with a collection of quotes from great writers which I’ve just started reading.

Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers

I’m a big fan of great writing advice and I want to share a few quotes that stand out for me so far.

This first one highlights something I’ve been thinking about lately and haven’t been able to capture in words yet. When I write something that feels worthwhile to me, it feels like I am connecting to something profound, simple and eternal. I have this sense of it as a colour palette, oddly, the felt-sense equivalent of a Polaroid photo from my childhood (well, if there were Polaroid photos from my childhood):

We are part of a mystery, a splendid mystery within which we must attempt to orient ourselves if we are to have a sense of our own nature.

From “On “Beauty”: Marilynne Robinson on Writing, What Storytelling Can Learn from Science, and the Splendors of Uncertainty

Writing that matters is all about honesty, at least for me. Writing honestly is the only way to tap into whatever passes for my flow (I just had this notion of my flow as the literary equivalent of the Speed Force … yes, I’m a fan):

How to feel your way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of your skull.

From “Ray Bradbury on How List-Making Can Boost Your Creativity

This next one is a recurring theme with writers and so true. Unfortunately it is also so easy not to follow this advice. It requires a lot of persistence and good habits which are still very much works in progress for me:

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.

From “Order to the Chaos of Life: Isabel Allende on Writing”.

My favourite quote (so far) is this one from “Susan Orlean on Writing”:

You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.

I definitely have days when I feel ill at the thought of typing anything (fortunately those are often the days I turn to my camera for some non-verbal creative expression) and this piece of advice can be an invaluable help when it’s time to return to my keyboard.

I’m on a Brain Pickings binge at the moment. Go read more “Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers”. It will be worth it. If you enjoyed this stuff, read Om Malik’s advice on how to write good blog posts:

Om Malik’s advice on writing good blog posts

How to beat writer’s block – move your fingers

My favourite quote about overcoming writer’s block today comes from Srinivas Rao’s Medium post titled “How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life”:

The simplest way to overcome this is to put your fingers on the keyboard and move them. Write whatever you are thinking. Don’t stop until the screen has 100 words on it. I don’t know why this works, but it does. Maybe it’s the principle of momentum.

I started doing something similar when I get stuck. Just open a blank document and start typing whatever comes to mind. The output is usually nothing I can actually publish (well, except for that one time) but it helps to break whatever is keeping me blocked.

(Thanks to Kira Hug for the link)

Wisdom from the Buddha: “Try not to be a doos!”

I’m sure this is an accurate translation of what the Buddha said … 😛

If you don’t quite get it, don’t worry. “Doos” is a very South African thing. It basically translates into “idiot” with a little bad attitude.