WRIT100 has arrived at its final genre – Screenplay. Everyone is writing like mad attempting to achieve the minimum required grade to access 2nd year workshops.

In a humorous juxtaposition with Paperman for Valentine’s – check out Jason Reitman’s Consent. Jason was the writer and director of Up in the Air, and director of Juno. Here’s a short film he wrote and directed  in 2004.


Paperman for Valentine’s

Well I’m tardy. Too tardy for best of this, and new year’s resolution of that. But I’m just in time for some pre-Valentine’s day love!

Paperman is a great short that’s worth the buzz.

At the moment UVic’s Writing 100 is keeping me really busy, but there is lots more to come on in 2013. Cheers.

Poetry is Heightened Speech

On the footsteps of my post regarding “show don’t tell” I’m now thinking about another truism for the novice writer. It’s short, sweet and therefore easy to remember, expressed here via the Whims iPhone app.

Your poem should sound like natural, yet notable, speech. If it’s a clunky string of adjectives you’ve still got revising to do. As with all good advice, it’s easier to give than to follow, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the effort and the WRIT 100 journey.

Habit List – Personal Commitments and Visual Management

I struggle to keep up with my chores. I procrastinate. I spend my time practicing escapism rather than being productive. My nature of sensible hedonism could typically be expressed in pseudo Spanish as “mañana”. It’s terrible… I know.

I also know that I am, like most people, exceptionally malleable… just look at my visual management, willpower and weight loss post… it’s 5.5 months later and I’m still down 18.1 pounds, simply by weighing myself daily on a fancy, graph generating scale… scary!

But what to do about all those commitments I most recently refactored in my post on personal commitments, “The Speed of Trust”, and poster art? Is there something I can do to help with them? Fortuitously after a few search attempts I happened upon Habit List an inviting, balanced, skeuomorphism rich app.

Habit List elegantly adds visual management to your recurring to-do list. Red dots along the left margin indicate you are not delivering on your commitments. Green dot’s mean you are doing well. The number centred in the dots indicate how many times you’ve either made or missed your commitment in the current streak.

Each habit has its own exploded calendar view where details of your best streak, your current streak and your current completion rate are displayed. After just a week of using Habit List I’m addicted. Scratching items off the list feels rewarding. Daily reminders are much needed motivation and I’ve already grown my list of personal commitments. I am pleased to bestow 4.5 out of 5 stars on Habit List. There’s just one or two things missing.

Though the app has flexible scheduling options it’s still not enough. Working 9 out of 10 weekdays, and having some commitments that are only applicable when I am at home mean I either artificially pad or compress my streaks. I think there needs to be a “Not Applicable” option, perhaps only accessible from the calendar view, that allows the user to opt ad-hoc days out of the calculation of streaks for a specific habit. Also the ability to “snooze” reminders would help me procrastinate… I mean meet my commitments!

Habit List is well worth the $1.99. Do yourself a favour, get this app and start a routine of completion, you’ll be more productive and have fun while crossing things off your list.

Unpacking “Show Don’t Tell” – A Beginner’s Thoughts

Thus far the aspect of WRIT 100 that I’ve found most challenging is unpacking the writers’ cliche – “show don’t tell”. The expression inadequately summarizes a set of common issues that create bland writing. Below I break out 4 axioms that I’m actively practicing in an attempt to conquer my first year writing course.

Use Details to Allude to Depth

I love abstractions. My innate interest is in what people think and feel, not necessarily the details of what they look like, say or do. My typical inclination is to go right there. “Jonathan wrestled with the decision before him”. Look at me using an active verb to delve into the depths of Jonathan’s psyche… brilliant! Sadly it’s not so easy.

In order to engage your audience you need to paint a picture with your words, which alludes to what’s happening behind the scene, enabling them to imagine the depth for themselves. This depth is the home of the greater truth, the resonance, the unspoken “meaning”. This is generally what’s meant by “show don’t tell”. Yet the expression is deceptive because you don’t indiscriminately show everything. An attempt to paint all the possible details will befuddle. You must be frugal, discerning and fresh with your words.

Be Frugal

Write exactly what you mean with the fewest possible words. Be specific, as opposed to generic, and concrete, as opposed to abstract. Yet be sparing with the quantity of words.

There is a hierarchy of power within words descending from verbs, nouns, adjectives to adverbs. Use verbs and nouns, but unless necessary limit yourself to one concrete specific adjective per noun. Attempt to eliminate adverbs altogether by being exact in your verb choice (except in drama). Applying this guidance will help you contain your word count. It will also encourage you to be discerning in your word choice.

Be Discerning

Choose exactly the right word… every time. Does it mean exactly what you mean? Does it intentionally riff on something hidden in the depths? Does it possess the right sound? If not is there a better word? If not is this sentence necessary? What are you trying to allude to? What new sentence can help you get there?

Be Fresh

Avoid common expressions. They are too easy to interpret and therefore fail to engage the audience’s imagination. Where appropriate attempt to describe ordinary things in fresh ways. For example if the sparks are symbolic in your work, don’t just write “sparks”, bring imaginative words to bear to paint the picture. Make your audience think about them in ways they never thought they would, employ vivid details that waltz.

Personal Credo and Commitments

I’m reading yet another personal improvement book, similar to my adventures with The Happiness Project and The Element, this one is called the Speed of Trust and is written by Stephen M.R. Covey, the son of the gentleman who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Speed of Trust contains a number of exercises for the reader. I will share some of the results of these exercises over the next several months here at exploring-art.

The first exercise is to create a personal credo then make and document some personal commitments to yourself. The Speed of Trust approach to these commitments is simple, so it captured my attention after the somewhat convoluted exercise of resolutions, goals and strategic outcomes that I proposed earlier this year. Basically the Speed of Trust way is to start with small, simple commitments that you actually 100% intend to fulfil, slowly train yourself to keep those commitments and build up to more challenging commitments.

This could potentially have been quite a dry, boring and un-visually appealing post. In an effort to avoid that, I took some photo’s from Photo Excursion 2, Posterino software from the Mac App Store and mashed up my very own Personal Credo and Commitments motivational poster.