Action vs Plot and Fresh vs Formula

A few months ago, a friend and fellow writer came to me with questions about action, plot, and how to tell a unique story. His questions were fantastic and I wanted to share our conversation for those of you who might be asking yourselves the same thing; “How can I write a story that is fresh and new if I’m following the ‘rules’ and ‘formula’ set out by tried-and-true authors?”

Hi Rebecca! I wanted to ask you about action vs plot. Are the two mutually exclusive? What’s the deal with that and why? Should one expect an action movie to have a plot? Why would viewers care if it doesn’t have one?

Oh, good question. Action, particularly in the action movie genre, tends to refer more specifically to motion and movements that are being taken. Action movies involve a great deal of momentum. The pace is usually quite fast and a lot of exciting events tend to occur.
Plot is more collective; it’s about WHY those actions happen, and when and how. The plot involves the motivations of the characters and the causal affect, why one action leads into, or causes, a reaction.

An action movie SHOULD have a plot, but some don’t. If stuff is blowing up and people are running about everywhere but there isn’t some underlying sense of motivation and purpose there is no plot.

A lot of ‘real life’ is fairly plotless. We do stuff, because it’s a new day; that’s action. But without goals and dreams there is no plot and we tend to wander from action to action aimlessly.

Is it ever a good idea to be whimsical or plotless? I can see that being intentionally plotless, would fit as a plot device (ironically) to make something seem more natural or possibly light-hearted…

Like I said, a lot of real life IS plotless, but during the writing process it’s best to have a plot because in a story things are supposed to happen for a reason. If you factor in an action or event that appears to be plotless it is because within your plot that ‘natural’ or ‘light-hearted’ event is important to the story.

This is Chekov’s Gun Theory, which states, “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.”

What this comes down to is plot devices. Everything in the story should serve the purpose of the plot. If it isn’t related then it doesn’t belong in the story. The plotless stuff should get taken OUT of a story.

Guy gets up, has coffee, blows his nose, has a shower… The reader doesn’t CARE! So it gets cut. Unless something significant happens in the event, such as his coffee is poisoned or he blows his brains out of his nose, it is noise that will bore and frustrate a reader. If an object, scene, or an action doesn’t serve the plot then it’s superfluous padding which can slow down and even dumb down a story.

Why does a story need to be plot-driven?

Some stories are considered to be plot-driven while others are considered to be character-driven. If the scene develops the reader’s connection with the character it’s considered to be a character-driven scene and doesn’t necessarily ‘need’ a plot. But it’s better if the characters are driving the plot with all of their actions. That is how the two weave together.
Ideally, plot and character go together.

It’s the kind of thing worth considering when reading books. Look at them with your writer’s eye; pay attention to what feels connected to the greater theme of the story. Does anything happen that doesn’t, ultimately, lead into what happens next?
Life does that. If anything in my past had happened differently I wouldn’t be who I am in the present. And books are the same; the action serves the purpose of the plot, or at least it should.

Plot “devices” can be used for connectedness, people can often either remember or miss, something that happened earlier and how it relates to what happened later, but you want your story to be unique and character-driving is how you do that right? If a story is too plot-driven it often becomes contrived and predictable; it will feel fake, and readers will get emotionally disconnected.

You need both. Or rather, I should say, the best stories have both. There are plenty of stories that are “ok” which cater to one or the other predominantly but the stories readers come to love, the ones they become immersed in and won’t put down, are those which keep a balance between character and plot. Those stories build character enough to make us care that these things happen to this person, and plot enough to make what happens interesting.

So how do you escape the “same ol’ thing”? How do you make it something readers haven’t ever read before? How do you do something they wouldn’t predict?

Unique writing usually comes from voice. The same basic plot, even very similar characters have been written about hundreds of times before. (This is the basis of The Hero’s Journey.) But YOU haven’t written them. The way YOU tell the story will differ from the story someone else told.

If you talk to twenty people at a birthday party, every one of those twenty people would describe the party in a different and unique way. It would be like there were twenty parties instead of one. Each of us brings our own experiences and unique perspective to our storytelling.
Your storytelling can do things in a unique way based on your voice and the ideas that are uniquely yours.

Is it better to do what is expected or to prepare the reader for what is to come? Is dropping hints a good thing or should you just hit them with stuff?

It is better to balance the expected with the unexpected. Prepare and don’t prepare. Readers love twists, they love surprises, but they don’t like being mislead or sent off on tangents.

So, even if you do something unexpected, when the reader looks back it should be eye-opening for them. On reflection, they should be able to see the things that pointed to the twist before the twist happened.

For example, the second time you watch the movie, “Sixth Sense”, you realise there are lots of things that pointed to the twist from the very first scene. Natural human assumption about the way the world works creates a belief that causes viewers to miss those crucial hints the first time we see the movie, the twist makes us go “Shock, WOW!” and then ohhh, there, and there, oh yes, I remember that happening, etc.

Hints are good. Intelligent readers especially love the thrill of getting hints and trying to guess the ending. But be careful not to make those hints too obvious or the reader will guess and be right.

A lot of the advice you’re giving, and writer’s are given generally, applies because it’s a tried-and-true analysis of stuff that’s already been written, but how does one approach writing something completely new? Using the same methods as before doesn’t sound like it makes something fresh.

Well, you can write things completely opposite to that which is tried-and-true. It might work, but it might also become the biggest flop in this history of big flops. That’s what innovation is about; taking a chance that it won’t suck it big time.

If you want to write a book you can sell, you do it the way that has proven to work. Publishers don’t like taking risks so particularly for those of us writing for traditional publishers it can be important to follow the ‘rules’ and do what has proven to work.

If you want to do something fantastically unique and new, then don’t follow the ‘rules’. You have to be willing to break all the rules. It might pay off, but it might not. You have to weigh up if the risk is worth it to you. If you love the process of writing without following the tried-and-true, if it’s fun to be wild like that, then go for it. Forge the path for other writers to follow the new rules you create.

The only real ‘rule’ in writing is to write what you love. Because, odds are, if you love it there will be readers out there who love it as much as you do.

Original conversation took place on the 14th of September, 2010.

Your Versus You’re – English Grammar Online

When I see discussions about your versus you’re, I imagine a voice coming over a loud-speaker at a sports arena. There are two figures, huddled in opposite corners of a boxing ring.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, weighing in at four letters, we have the challenger “your.” And in this corner, weighing in at a hefty five letters PLUS an apostrophe, we have another challenger, “you’re.””

Yes, two challengers. We do not have a defending champion, as is the case with most grammatical matches involving words that sound alike but are quite different.

Let us review the English Grammar Online rules of the your versus you’re match, then.

Your

This is a possessive pronoun indicating ownership of something, whether temporary or permanent. It is not a verb form.

Examples:
Your car
Your name
Your hotel room

You’re

This is the contraction form of “you are.” It can be a complete sentence on its own acknowledging your existence. It can be followed by a verb or an adjective. It is not possessive unless someone else is talking to you, as in “You are mine.”

Examples
You’re pretty.
You’re running.
You’re going home.

English Grammar Online Championship Exercises

To get a little practice in before the match results are in, try your hand at these. Are they right or wrong?

  • You’re sister wants you to call.
    (Wrong. While you might be a sister, this is supposed to mean that the sister you have, your sister, wants you to call.)
  • Your car needs washing.
    (Right. It is a car you have, so it is your car.)
  • You’re out of money.
    (Right. It describes a condition you have.)
  • Your going home.
    (Wrong. You don’t own a “going home.” It’s something you are doing.)

The You’re Versus You’re English Grammar Online Winner Is…

There is no winner in this English Grammar Online battle. It’s a tie. Both you’re and your are either challengers or champions. Neither is less than the other. They are not interchangeable.

I could quote English grammar rules, but they don’t often help in real-world situations because they remind us (yes, even me) of being in Ms. So-and-so’s English/grammar class getting the rules drilled into you. Instead, think about this:

Be careful when you’re using “you’re” and “your” in your writing. They might sound alike, but they’re not. These two basic tips can help you decide which one is appropriate.

  • If it is something “you” have, such as an object, name, location, or trait, use “your.”
  • If it is a verb form meaning “you are” and using another verb or an adjective to describe someone, use “you’re.”

Can you write a sentence or two using your and you’re correctly? Give it a go in the comments below.

Four Dimensions: Character Analysis Beyond 3d Characters

Four dimensions like four eyes give 3d characters added depth.Fleshing out characters (giving 3d characters four dimensions) is one of my favorite aspects of writing a story, perhaps more than weaving the plot. The human mind is complex, and in a story, every character is an outstanding individual, with their own story, dreams, hopes and fears. The possibilities are limitless, and I could spend all day uncovering the characters’ motivations, ideals, and inner workings.

Once the plot gets going, even complex 3d characters get busy with what’s going on around them, and are in danger of losing their personality quirks. When I’m writing through an exciting scene, I often forget that the characters wouldn’t act the way I would act. I have to go back and evaluate the scene, and whether they are acting true to character.

When that happens, I look over four dimensions of a character’s personality, to see if they are acting consistently throughout the story. These four dimensions can be determined at the beginning of a story, or infused at any point in time thereafter to bring out the best in your heroes.

Thoughts: The Hero’s Conscious Awareness

Discover through character analysis the four dimensions of your characters.Your characters each have their own perspective on the world. Their upbringing, education level, and current situation shape their thoughts and consequently their actions. A well-to-do, college-educated attorney will think about the world far differently than an abused high school dropout. They will be concerned about different things, have a particular sense of right and wrong, and analyze problems in unique ways. They will also hold themselves and their companions to separate standards, praising and criticizing under various circumstances.

The most common way we look at an individual’s thoughts today is through left brain, right brain analysis. In general, characters who are left brained think logically and rationally, working through a situation step-by-step to its conclusion. Right brained folks look at life on a grander scale, working holistically and creatively to solve problems. You can really flesh out a character’s thought patterns by figuring out if she’s left or right brained, and how she approaches critical thinking.

Feelings: What His Heart Wants

In direct opposition at times to the hero’s thought processes are his emotional reactions to the world. Before his brain gets a chance to analyze, his heart will express his initial reaction to external stimuli. Your protagonist will obviously have feelings about all the other characters he meets, whether they are good, bad, or indifferent feelings. This will color his actions in how much he interacts with others, and in what ways.

However, people have feelings about everything in their lives, not just other humans. She may feel that she is on the wrong course of action, even when she cannot think of a reason why this is so. Known as gut reactions, following your intuition, or even psychic awareness, these feelings crop up consistently throughout our lives. Your character may feel like wearing a red shirt today, even though her blue shirt is clean too. She may despise her best friend’s brother, even though she just met him and knows nothing about him. These are all human feelings that can take your story and characters down exciting new paths.

Actions: How He Presents Himself to the World

Your protagonist shapes his world and his story via his actions, how he interacts with other people and his environment. Actions reveal a lot about a person’s character, illuminating his thoughts and feelings with a tip of his hat. If your character doesn’t act, he doesn’t progress through the story, and will have to be helped along by his companions.

Actions are the home of “show, don’t tell”, where your heroine can really stand out from the crowd. If she pulls over to help an injured animal along the side of the road, she will come across as compassionate and nurturing, even if no one else in the story recognizes that fact. If she stands firmly against every obstacle in her path, readers will come to the conclusion that she is headstrong, determined, and perhaps a little ruthless. Actions really do speak louder than words, amongst your characters and to your readers as well.

Relations: How He Interacts with Others

Your hero does not live in a vacuum. He has to deal with other people, and all of the things that we do in our daily lives. Work, home, school, society, religion, health, goals, and values shape your character continuously. He has to relate to and react to all of these environmental influences on a daily basis, with certain aspects taking precedence depending on the day’s events.

How your character relates to her environment can provide new insights you may not have considered. If your protagonist is a diligent worker, yet lives in a messy home, she obviously has different values about what is acceptable in different settings. At the beginning of the story, she may be a self-proclaimed atheist, yet is presented with many challenges to her faith throughout the story arc. Whether she lets herself relate to those challenges, or remains unchanged, will give readers a new perspective on her personality.

These four dimensions of a character’s personality will give you unlimited characterization ideas and plot possibilities. Your readers will easily relate when the characters think, feel, act, and relate to the world in ways that we all do each day. When your heroine seems dull, go over these four dimensions and see if she has the opportunity to show of her amazing self!

How do you ensure that your characters are fleshed out and believable? To what standard do you hold them accountable? What tricks do you use to bring out the best in your heroes?

Photo Credit: Four Eyes by Carulmare
Photo Credit: Mask by Cliff1066tm

Book Review: Can I Change Your Mind? by Lindsay Camp

Write Compelling Copy That Engages Readers and Calls Them To Take ActionWriting compelling copy that engages readers and entices them to take action is a powerful skill, particularly when writing for the web. All writing, from landing pages, sales copy, press releases, and marketing documentation, to something as simple as a blog post or email requires an element of persuasive writing.

Recently, a new client hired me to write landing pages for affiliate products. It is a fantastic job, giving me everything I love about this business; in particular, a new challenge that pushes my boundaries and forces me to expand my writing repertoire. To do the job well I’ve had to spend time researching how to write copy that compels visitors to buy.

Lindsay Camp‘s book, “Can I Change Your Mind?” had been on my ‘to-be-read’ writing shelf for several months but with this new challenge it leaped out of the waiting pile. 240 pages later I came away with a deep sense of how writing can be used to transform people, to compel them to act, or change their opinions and beliefs.

First, we discover how persuasive writing is useful for everyone, not just professional writers. These days, we all use written language for all sorts of reasons from a simple note or email to blogs and fiction.

Persuasive writing plays a part in all writing because the key aspect of persuasive writing is to ‘change’ your reader. That change might just be to convince them that they want to keep reading (as in a novel) or it might be to have them part with their money or support a cause.

You need to know how to write persuasively. Not just so that you can write for clients, like the one who hires me to write affiliate landing pages, but so that every word you write connects with your readers.

Ultimately, the craft and art of persuasive writing comes down to a single rule. Lindsay covers this with “The three Rs of good persuasive writing”.

Remember the Reader and the Result” ~ Linsday Camp

There are two things you must know about any writing project. You must know these things down to the elemental facts. You should have a these two elements honed to a fine tip pen before you begin writing.

Other
Persuasive Writing Books
You Might Like

They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Persuasive Writing by Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works by Janice (Ginny) Redish

Remember the Reader

Who are you trying to persuade? In freelancing we know this better as our reader, our target audience.

For example, YOU are my target reader, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. My sharpened image of you is, “An adult who is interested in making a career from freelance writing, particularly in an online environment.” Now, there may be a few who read WRA who don’t fall into this ‘target’ but when I write, these people, ‘those interested in making a career from freelance writing, particularly in an online environment’ are the people I’m talking to. (If you’re not one of these people, PLEASE, leave a comment and let me know what brings you to WRA.)

Remember the Result

What do you want them to do? Simply keep reading? Leave a comment? Buy a product? Subscribe to your blog? Learn something new?

There are millions of results you might be aiming for when you sit down to write. One of the biggest mistakes we can make as a writers, is to begin writing with no concept of our intended result. Every form of writing evokes a result of some kind and not having a firm grasp of the result we want, the very reason we are writing, can often lead to unfocused, jumbled, and meandering writing.

For example, the result I want from this review is: ‘to give you enough information about “Can I Change Your Mind?” to decide for yourself if it will interest you’. Notice, that in this case, my result isn’t, ‘convince you to buy’. I don’t want you to buy the book if you don’t think you need it. I could set my result as, ‘convince reader they need this book’. But, I’m not brave enough to be so pushy and opinionated in a review.

Lindsay discusses this “Big Theory” far better than I have done in this blog post. Obviously, there is so much more to writing persuasively then I can cover in less than 800 words. In fact, “Can I Change Your Mind?” has a whole A to Z and several post scripts that go into more detail.

Readers Want Results Too

Ultimately, I have to ask myself if Lindsay Camp‘s book had the result its target reader wanted. Did this book help me produce the persuasive copy I was hired to write? It sure did! And now I can turn these new skills and techniques toward all my future writing projects.

Now you need to ask yourself: Would your writing benefit from learning how to convince your reader to take action? If it would, find yourself a copy of Can I Change Your Mind?

What do you already know about persuasive writing? I’d love to know more so if you have any resources you recommend or information you’ve learned, please, share your thoughts!

Add Spark To Your Writing

By Jan Hoadley

I think we’ve all done it. We find a book that looks incredible. It’s on a topic we’re keenly interested in – the cover and description are great. We buy the book, get home and settle in to read – and by the fifth chapter we’re bored to tears with the presentation. It’s hard to follow, the information isn’t focused, and it’s difficult to get a grasp as to what the author means and where they’re going.

For example, I could write about my dog. She’s a border collie, three years old, hyper at times and bossy to the other dogs. Doesn’t that sound immensely boring? It gives the facts – but beyond that tells little to nothing. Contrast this:

Her nose pushes out the barely-opened window sniffing for the cats on the other side. She turns, bounds off the couch, runs to the other window, bounces off the wall and returns to thrust the nose out the window as if it might go further this time. As Fly crawls on the sofa to rest she pins her to the ground and stands over her growling. Then a blue merle blur circles the room again before returning to the window in hopes there’s a cat out there NOW.

Which description gives you a better picture in your mind of Abby? Do you, the reader, really care how old she is? Bringing a character alive makes the reader want to see more. It brings up questions – why is she so interested in cats? Does a cat make contact with her and what does she do then? Does Fly avoid her or return to the sofa? How does the scene figure in to the bigger story?

Before getting in to sensory description sharpen the characters in your mind. Write down as much information on them to get it clear in your mind WHO this character is. Know your character well. When you thoroughly understand the character it’s easy to put yourself in their shoes. It’s almost like becoming an actor – the actor might be outgoing but the character he plays is quiet and plays things close to the vest. The character may act different than the actor would in the same situation. In writing – we are the “actor” – we decide what those characters do if it’s fiction. If non-fiction we can research and make the characters interesting enough to teach our audience and entertain them at the same time. Fill out an employment application for your adult characters. Do a background check on them! Interview them and look at the pictures on their desk! Use your imagination! Why does this character do this?

Non-fiction writers doing a profile want to portray their subject accurately – use these same powers of observation and details to breathe life into your character.

Sharpen your writing of directions. Think of something you do on a regular basis and write step by step directions. Use something you do often – brushing teeth or heating a can of soup. This teaches you to pay attention to details in your explanations. We often take for granted things – open the can, put on the stove, pour soup in a bowl and eat. Do that exactly and it’s not very tasty!! It leaves out pouring the soup into a pan, water or other ingredients added, turning on the stove and placing on a burner until heated. With the former one – if followed exactly – you could be eating cold soup concentrate! While this might seem silly – when you think about it, what if it’s directions to something that could be fatal when done incorrectly? Leaving out a step could be bad! When you learn to take and give directions precisely even mapquest and other map sites aren’t accurate in many cases – and when it leaves out a step you can end up a totally different place. On the same principle, your story can end up a totally different place if something is left out. It doesn’t make sense.

Some people have the idea non-fiction writing is boring – it doesn’t have to be. Using similar techniques can breathe creativity into fact. While it’s true that fiction you don’t have facts to box in – facts don’t have to be boring! It can be a little more interesting to make it interesting but it can be done. Books like “Secretariat The Making of a Champion” (William Nack) or “Great Horse Racing Mysteries” (John McEvoy) are all factual information – but read like novels. The influx of true crime and other books may or may not be fact but those based on fact tend to be more believable. When you put the right spin on something you can make the unbelievable believable. Think about it – how many read Steven King’s “Christine” and thought twice about a car coming up behind them? We *KNOW* cars don’t have minds to think and stalk people but there’s just enough there to think “what if”. How many read a scary book and associate bad things with corn fields or sewer grates or other things? The power of a good story gets through.

Use word pictures to sharpen your writing. When your character is in the car is she driving down the road? When looking at the trees is she looking at a tree line in the distance or laying under one watching the branches and leaves over her? They’re both trees but proximity and perspective makes a difference in the story. Good descriptions make scenes come to life. It enables someone who is blindfolded to see the picture you’re looking at. Strong characters, purposeful actions and making writing interesting makes the difference in a story with good information and a story with good information that gets read.

Whether you add creative details to non-fiction or realistic details to fiction, making writing interesting *and* engaging enough to read keeps the reader going.

Sharpen your skills and make your writing sizzle.

How do you add spark to your writing?

Book Review: How You Leave Them Feeling

Title: How You Leave Them Feeling
Author: Jesse Ferrell
Publisher: JessTalk, hardback, 254 pages
ISBN 10: 0977881008

“Simply put, how you leave other people feeling and how people perceive you have a profound effect on the quality of your life,” declares the jacket blurb on Jesse Ferrell’s “How You Leave Them Feeling“. Ferrell encourages readers to adopt his approach in any interaction. The goal is to leave each person feeling good about himself and thus feeling good about you. When you do this, Mr. Ferrell maintains, you will be on the way to living the life you deserve, getting what you want out of life, and “living the good life now.”

Ferrell begins with a rousing introduction in which he explains the idea of the book. He describes how he saw that his own success was based on his ability to consistently leave clients and others feeling good about themselves. Then he sets the table for the main course by listing the principles on which he has built his own life. (He calls them the “Seven Essential Laws of Life”.)

In the thirteen chapters that follow, he delivers the details of his Seven Essential Laws and explains how they relate to leaving others feeling good about themselves and you. He explores subjects of attitude, communication, personal and professional development, building a support network, maintaining a healthy balance in life and more, illustrating liberally with real-life anecdotes and summing up with bits of catchy wisdom.

Some memorable points of the book for me were:

  • The idea of the personal signature or unique style by which each of us becomes known.
  • An emphasis on kindness and giving to others.
  • The importance of attitude – along with a piece of good advice: “When in doubt, leave it out… it is far easier to revisit a situation and provide additional messages than it is to take back a wrongful or inappropriate remark stemming from an attitude glitch.”
  • The importance of listening: “Sharpening your listening skills will bring you more respect and interpersonal growth than just about any other endeavor. People like to feel they are being heard. When you clearly listen to others, you are honoring the power of communication by investing the time to take in their message.”
  • The challenge to leave everything – and everyone – better than you found them.

The readability of Ferrell’s practical and crisply written material is helped by consistent organization and formatting. The text is laid out with lots of white space between paragraphs and broken up with bold-face headings. The main points of each chapter are listed again at the conclusion as action steps. A list of summary points (one-sentence statements that describe how following the actions steps will impact the reader’s behavior) and affirmations (brief positive statements for the reader to repeat or reflect on) conclude each chapter.

Jesse Ferrell, the man, comes across as enthusiastic, likable, a great friend and team player with lots of drive, integrity and clear goals. As a former executive within the Las Vegas casino marketing industry, he is now president and CEO of a professional speaking company, JessTalk Speaking Services, and seems eminently qualified to write a book of this kind. His experience in the corporate world gives added value to the personal and professional development section via the diary system he has developed and illustrates. He now works as a life coach and the “JessTalk Life Quadrant Model” he has developed for clients drives home his point about the need for and means of achieving a balanced lifestyle.

I gained much from the book. However, I would not adopt it carte blanche as my personal road guide. It is written from a humanistic perspective and is birthed out of a New Age worldview (bad energy, good energy, karma, the Cosmos, evolved soul, mantra, Mother Nature, envisioning/visualization are all terms or concepts found within). With that in mind, however, I would say that you can learn much of value from “How You Leave Them Feeling” whatever your creed.

I have encountered many of its principles in my own belief system and I decided, as I read it, to use what I could and simply discard the things with which I didn’t agree. It has certainly made me think twice about how I will treat the next telemarketer, panhandler, supermarket clerk or whomever – and that’s got to be a good thing.

Also available to download with Amazon's Kindle.

Violet Nesdoly, a poet, Christian and Children’s Author said, “The world of words has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. As a kid, whenever my Mom needed me for a job, it was a sure thing she’d find me between the covers of a book.”

You can get to know her better by reading her blog, Line Upon Line, where she shares inspiration, poetry, and thoughts on writing life. You can also find out more about Jesse Ferrell on his site, JessTalk Speaking and Coaching Services.

If you’re interested in having a review or article posted on Writer’s Round-About please send a query letter to rebecca.laffarsmith@gmail.com.

Writing In Poverty For Poverty

Isn’t amazing how life intrudes upon good intentions. I had honestly planned to have this post written and published for the 15th but I suppose it wasn’t to be. Still, Blog Action Day was incredible and the support and collaboration for the global effort was truly inspiring.

It’s not Blog Action Day today but I feel it’s never too late to add your voice to a good cause. Did you miss the 15th of October too? Have your say today, or tomorrow. You could even begin planning for another Blog Action Day in the future. Unlike the shortage of food and shelter those in poverty suffer there is an abundance of material, information, and inspiration to reach out and touch another’s heart and mind.

The world around us seems to be rocking at the moment with terms like ‘financial crisis’, ‘economic crash’, and ‘depression’. It seems we are all feeling the pinch as the global economy shifts to accommodate the latest changes in financial infrastructure. The truth is, while it might seem a challenge to make ends meet on our worrisome incomes, freelancers are amongst the richest people in the world.

It can be difficult to find a paying gig, maintain existing clients who are looking to cut financial expenses, or even cover the rising interest rates when it comes to paying amenities and banking fees. But, did you know, your ability to read this post right now makes you one of the wealthiest people on Earth?

Writer’s have often been portrayed as the ultimate ‘starving artist’. In lean months we eat spaghetti from the tin or share canned tuna with the cat. These days however, in cultures that are connected to modern technology we are richer than we have ever been. These days, the majority of homes in the USA, England, and Australia have a web enabled computer, some have more than one. Most homes have a telephone connection, piped water, natural gas, and electricity. Many of us are able to get into gas (petrol) guzzling cars and do grocery shopping at the local supermarket. We are richly provided for and it has become easy to take this for granted.

Even as few as one hundred years ago these modern conveniences were rare. Many had never been imagined. As we trace backward through history we can watch the decline through the ages of the basic standard of living, and yet, for the most part 80% of the world lived in a comfort of their basic needs being met from day to day.

Through that same history, as we trace from the ancient past back to the present their is another historic trend. The poverty-stricken. The percentage is actually surprisingly high, nations of families, men, women, and their children, who do not have basic supplies. Many days they go without food. Clean water is almost a myth. Shelter is ramshackle and filth-ridden at best. Light is something only the sun creates. Social connection involves standing side by side while they wait for a jug of water from the communal well or beating dirty clothes with a rock in a filthy stream.

Becoming aware of our individual wealth, accepting and appreciating how abundant our own lives are is the first step to helping others. As writers, we have a very powerful means to aid others, our voice costs us nothing to provide, our words no more than the paper we write upon and the ink in our pens. We have the means at our fingertips and as we appreciate our wealth we can see how much of ourselves we can afford to give.

What will you give to create change for those who are less blessed? What small action could you take today, or tomorrow, or each week from now on, that could impact in the tiniest fraction the life of one with less than you have? Do you have some ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for creating change in the comments. Have your say, share your thoughts, and perhaps together, we can make a difference.

Blog Action Day 2008 – Don’t Forget!

This Wednesday, the 15th of October 2008 is World Blog Action Day. A single day when blogger around the world unite their voices and take command of the media message. For one day, we’ll do our part to acknowledge, brainstorm, and bring about awareness of poverty. There are millions of people around the world who live, day to day, without basic necessities. While we might feel hard done by to have to only half fill our gas tank entire families are without food or water.

Will you raise your voice with us? How can you discuss poverty on your blog and spread the message to your readers and beyond? How does poverty affect you or the people around you? How can you help create a difference?

Remember: “Charity begins at home.” Are there ways you can improve your own situation? Are there things you have that could be donated to others in need? If every one of us make a commitment to change starting small and radiating out through our family, our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities, states, and nations. We can affect real change and make a difference on lives around the world!

Do your part on Blog Action Day!

Develop A Plan: Take Action NOW!

“Never leave the site of a goal without taking some action towards it’s attainment.” ~ Tony Robbins


Anthony Robbins Mastery Programs and Leadership Results
The next step when it comes to setting goals is to devise your action plan. These goals look pretty on paper but without taking firm steps toward their accomplishment they may linger in good intentions. Start by posting your nine primary goals in a place where you can see and review them every day. Now, for each of these goals write down two actions you can take within the next 24 hours that will move you closer to these goals. Repeat this step every morning.

“Fundamentals need to be practiced daily.” ~ Tony Robbins

Your action steps should be small and measured. If you dream of touring the world in a class one private jet the first step isn’t to board the plane. You’ll need to gather travel brochures, look up costs, budget your finances, talk to a travel agent, discuss the idea with family. There are many small steps you can take toward accomplishing your goal and by surrounding yourself with the images and actions that take you closer to this goal you reinforce it’s importance in your life, you reinforce your belief that it can, with steady forward momentum, be accomplished.

“With Goals we create the future in advance. We create our destiny. We shape our life.” ~ Tony Robbins

Each day, read over your goals and remember why they are important to you. Take action on those goals so that you are always moving toward them. If you feel yourself waving sit down and practice The Rocking Chair Method again.

“You become a creator when you write down goals and become absolutely clear on why you want them. The WHY behind your goals is their real power.” ~ Tony Robbins

Each month you may like to examine your goals again. Are these goals still important to you? Do you have new desires you would like to add to your list or have other goals moved ahead in priority? It is important to review and revise your goals as this will keep you motivated and on track to those things you truly want and deserve. The person you are today will not be the person you are tomorrow and your needs will change. Reflect on those changes and allow them into your life by adjusting your goals and direction to match.


Anthony Robbins - Get the Edge!

“With the ability to desire a goal comes the ability to achieve it.” ~ Tony Robbins

What will you do today to take action toward your goals?

A Goal Setting Workshop For Writers

With Goals we create the future in advance. We create our destiny. We shape our life. ~ Anthony Robbins


With Goals
we create the future in advance.
We create our destiny. We shape our life.

~ Anthony Robbins

Goal setting isn’t just about making a New Year’s Resolution that gets forgotten, or looking glumly back at the person you thought you would become. It’s about defining your desires. Creating a concrete vision of your passions and aspirations. Building and harnessing your ability to dream and achieve. It’s about creating a map to the person you want to become and the life you want to lead.

The first step to setting quality goals and building our map through infinite possibility into the future we want for ourselves as writers is to truly appreciate the place we are at right now. Measure the difference between where we are now and where we want to be. See the vast canyon between who you are today and the person you hope to become.

In a goal setting workshop we begin with a focus on right now. We look ahead in measurable increments, a month, six months, a year, three years, five years, ten years, twenty years into the future. Where do you want to be in twenty years? What do you want your to accomplish in with your writing? What can you begin to do today that will bring that aspiration into your life? How can you begin to manifest the future you desire right now?

Tony Robbins believes, “Thoughts are Things”. This is ultimately the Law of Attraction in it’s most basic form. I believe that setting goals empowers us. We can cast our dreams into the stars but we need to reflect on the laws of physics to reach them. We must become aware of what it will take to get where we want to go and begin taking action toward those goals. Break down every goal into individual, achievable parts. Develop a collection actionable tasks that, when acted upon, move you toward greatness every single day.

We’re going to do this together in a series of posts, A Goal Setting Workshop For Writers. We’ll begin by spending time on our wish-lists. Set aside time right now, later today, sometime tomorrow, or over the weekend to work with dedicated focus on the short exercises in this workshop. Take the phone off the hook and hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door. Demand time for yourself as you would if you were writing or include your family in your goal setting workshop. You can work together with others to achieve not only the goals you have for yourself but those of your loved ones. Give yourself this time to create your future, to shape the person you choose to be.

I’ve learnt a great deal from Tony’s “Get The Edge” collection and each month I revisit his Goal Setting Workshop which I’ll bring to you here. I honestly believe that the motivational speaking and audio presentations of Tony Robbins can change your life. They are an investment in your future.


Get the Edge!