Mind Mapped

mind mapDuring your visits at the Thought Factory you will sometimes encounter posts labelled “mapped” – books mapped, TED mapped, even sites mapped. The ‘Mind Gym’ of my LEARN section, an important room in this factory, will equip you with knowledge about mind maps – how they are created, what they are used for. Once you have seen a few they are quite self-explanatory and that’s what makes them such a convenient tool to grab the essence of articles, books or TED talks and transfer it to you.

If you are like me, you don’t have as many times ten-twenty minutes as there are attractive TED talks. The introductory lines on TED usually just make you want to listen to the speech even more. A glance at an outline or, even better, a mind map of these talks lets you acquire the essence and allows you to decide with more certainty which ones are most useful to watch for your own purposes and interests.

Look for posts marked as ‘something mapped’ if you happen to be looking to save some time or just use it more wisely (speaking of which, expect me to share some thoughts on time management in the Mind Gym sometime).

Have you already heard of mind maps? Or used them? For taking notes? For studies or other purposes? What do you find most fascinating about them?

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Poems translated

This post could go in the ‘write’ section perhaps, although it is slightly unusual. In the past week I translated three poems of a friend to English (not a habit of mine). So the originals are to her credit, she is the Wakewalker after all. She likes the way they sound in English – or so she told me. Hope you like them too. 🙂

 

Wakewalker

Used-to-be sleepwalker,
I lived life as the dead.
Then turned into a soarer,
wandered cloudy paths.
Now I gleam and glare,
one-of-her-kind, fair
earth-rambling wake-walker.

 

Auroral Exultation
dewstar diamond-meadows
golden sun-rays’ azure sky
obsidian shade on the emerald grass
lush leaves’ velvety touch
wonderful treasures all mine, all for me
all for me
for me

 

only silence
only silence sits in me wordless
can’t find a way out
perhaps this is it
that’s all there is
a world locked in silence

Categories: New work, Poems | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

New look, new topics

factory sunriseYes, I have turned my half-dead author’s page into a Thought Factory. Why and what’s the difference?

Because the number of my writings – be it poems, short stories or novels – in English is limited. My thoughts on writing, reading and learning are not. So I have turned to lighting some creative sparks (or colourful bubbles – look around, they are hovering around, grab one!) in my visitors’ heads using my own. This is a place that produces thoughts in your minds while sticking to the realms of three specific, exciting topics.

Read, Learn, and Write. Books, interesting and new ways of learning and developing your mind or recognizing the tricks it plays with you, and writing, crafting stories, bringing characters to life. Warning: in ‘Learn’ I might treat the topic a bit vaguely because I am fascinated by anything that has to do with the human mind. In fact, I had considered calling it the ‘Mind Blog’ instead of the Thought Factory, or ‘Judit’s Mind Works’ (and of course a thousand other things), but quickly dropped both ideas for obvious reasons. But we are coming close to insider secrets – secrets of my mind –, so let’s not go deeper into this…

The page still contains a few writings of mine and I might add a few, and since these are mainly fantasy or sci-fi, you can also expect more content related to these genres.

Meanwhile I am building my Hungarian author’s page, so pay it a visit if you speak the language and please be a tiny little bit patient if not, because I am also working on my novel Utopia – the Isle of Peace. Some details are coming up soon!

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A Diagram That Motivates – For a Change

motivation - wheel of fortune LEARNINGI read an article today that had a pyramid and went ‘fighting low self-confidence’, so I thought – oh no, another so-very-motivating article that tells you not to give up and leaves you feeling miserable even if you were feeling perfectly fine before you began reading as it meditates about your insecure self-esteem. And so it was at first. But then came the pyramid (I thought, please, just no more Maslow), which turned it all around.
It gave my mind what it needs to keep moving: strategy and purpose. It made the entire writers’ career something that can be grasped, even achieved. Like a bird’s-eye view of all there is to be done. The steps to becoming a successful writer broken down into rungs of a ladder and suddenly they don’t look scary, they look – challenging. Like a plan. If you keep to it and move on, you’ll end up at the end of the road, eventually. Having taken one step at a time.

In fact, I just had to add the diagram to my blog, you can see it in the bottom right corner. (It will also let you know about my steps in the future.)

I had always been a wanna-be, a fan of reading and writing until I became a learner a while ago. I am constantly, strategically extending my knowledge and improving my skills, seeking contact with others in the same shoes, exchanging tips and advice. The next step is a finished novel. Sixth Heaven is in progress and moving forward every single day. As for the multiple novels part, I am not that worried either – the True Story wants nothing but to be written, budging in my head all the time, vampires struggling for attention the angels are getting in their spotlight. As for the rest, well, cross the bridge when you come to it, right?

I won’t make a resolution for taking a step up this year (especially seeing how my resolutions are – not – going). I will just take it. Break down the process, add deadlines, and keep moving forward.

Who else is motivated by strategy more than the ‘just don’t give up’ talk? How far are you up the pyramid yet? Do you find it brilliant, scary or silly?

Categories: Craft of writing, Motivation, Writer's block | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

B a c k U p !

Here’s a lesson to learn from my experience. Don’t wait to have your own.
Stop for a second to close your eyes and consider just how much harm losing data from the past one day, week or month would do to your life. Now open them, go and back up, especially if you are in a period of doing some intense writing, but do so even if you think you aren’t.

Here’s a horrible experience to show you why. In fact, I got quite lucky – considering the circumstances –, since I had a full back-up from about two months before my hard drive said ‘bye-bye’ and quite a few files saved online. Still, it is hard to describe the loss of even what I’m aware of having lost – not to mention what I might still discover. *Shivers and types on silently*

There is the immediate loss: I was in the process of preparing a paper and a presentation. I was working offline on the train on my way to the uni town, so when – almost at the end of the journey, of course – blue death took over my screen, I lost about a day’s work: typing, assembling spreadsheets, analyzing data… Recreating all that the next day is way more painful than having to write something from scratch. You know you already did it, and that it could all be there in your head… if only you could recall what it said… just the essence… It’s impossible.

Then, later, when you’re happy with your new hard disk and all the data you managed to restore, one day you will start searching for that particular file – that short story or character description you grasped so wonderfully, when was it… oh. That week. Or the game you planned to launch and crafted so carefully, with all outcomes considered, rules worked out, but didn’t add as a draft post on your blog… Well, there. Rewrite. That’s what I’m doing.

Please. Back up your files. All of them. I mean, now. In case your cell phone says, two days after your computer screwed up, “SD card not found”. You know, the one that contains the interview recordings for your thesis…

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University 2.0: Coursera

CourseraIn the previous post I complained about the excessive number of writing guides and the dilemma of choice – but books are not the only source for learning a craft (because art or not, there is some craft to writing you need to learn to become an artist… or at least, I definitely need to). For example, you can take a creative writing Master’s online for 30k $ – unless you are a student earning close to nothing, so I kept looking for cheaper ways. Besides some nice tutorials and series on YouTube channels like Martha Alderson’s or Writer’s Digest’s, we have now some real university courses for free.

Whoever thought that after over five years of university I would feel like enrolling in more courses? But this time, instead of being given a schedule, I get to choose my courses and whether I want to study Modern American Poetry, Genetics and Evolution, Social Network Analysis – or all three at the same time. I visit the lectures whenever I want to and wherever I want to, as they are online, and interact with other students from all around the world. And these are university courses, all free and optional. And much more fun than the ‘traditional’ ones (this probably has something to do with the being optional).

Of course, I’m talking about Coursera.org, which offers 213 courses at the moment, and which I fell in love with the moment I saw it. For someone so curious as me, wanting to know everything, it sounds a bit like heaven. If you’ve ever surfed Wikipedia just because it was all so interesting, you know what I’m talking about. I can finally take the courses of, say, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and the University of Michigan, all at the same time. Some introductory ones, of course, when it’s not much related to my own field(s). I so felt for the stick figure when it asked “Can I graduate in the universe and everything?” (or something like that), and now I feel a bit like I could. Well, maybe not graduate, but find out a lot more, in an organized way (not like Wikipedia is not organized… or trustworthy, right?). I’m just keeping my fingers crossed to see some more writing and/or literature related courses coming up. We already have the Modern American Poetry, The Fiction of Relationship, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Writing in the Sciences and English Composition I: Achieving Expertise. Anyone else taking or joining any of these?

Categories: Book fun, Craft of writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing guide overload

ImageI want to be a writer. And a good one. Very nice aims with tons of stuff to help. In fact, merely taking a look at Amazon’s relating section can result in eyes shining in awe, drooling, frowning and running away screaming – in this specific order.

I’m a really curious person and a good learner. When I want to do something, I want to do it well and I want to learn from the best in the discipline. I formulate a strategy, do some extensive research about available material, rank them by cost and value and then I act. Problem is, there’s so much material that seems to be really the best that it’s extremely hard to pick out the stuff meant for me. Because there must be some stuff meant for me out there, like some sites and books I’ve already found and learned from.

It’s lucky that Amazon has the ‘Wish List’ option, but again, when I checked my ‘writing guides’ and ‘fantasy’ wish lists before Christmas, I had to give up choosing just a few and ended up ordering none.

I’ve recently started using the ‘fantasy’ and whatever books I’m reading for entertainment in English to improve, well, my English, which always feels like a crucial and urgent task for me. At the moment, I have a Northern Lights paperback (one of two, to be sure) to take notes – yes, notes inside the book, which seemed awkward when I first tried but I’m getting used to now, and which I find extremely useful for grasping grammatical nuances, extending my vocabulary faster and analyzing story structure, character building and other story elements.

As for writing guides, here’s a collection of what I have or will have very soon, by area or skill to improve:

  • English: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression;
    The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment;
    Style: The art of writing well (Harriman Modern Classics);
    It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences
  • Story: Story Engineering;
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers;
    Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Characterization: 45 Master Characters;
    A Writer’s Guide to Characterizatio​n: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development;
    The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
  • Other (editing, psychology, whatnot): When Every Month is NaNoWriMo;
    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
    Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence
    Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View
  • And marketing, of course: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media

The titles and descriptions sound very promising. Now I wonder how many of these are as good as they sound (some I already know are great).

Oh, I’m also currently reading How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and PlayIt has some real great insights and ideas about the creative part of our mind and how you can strengthen it. More on this later.

Has anyone read or heard of any of the above works? What categories and guides would you add?

Categories: Craft of writing | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Back with a plan

2013Against all odds I survived November and December. With the loss of loads of data from my dear netbook, the opportunity cost* of a few, possibly quite a few, blog posts, a completed Nano-novel and a fully completed thesis, I’m back. I’ve had some time to reflect on what’s slowing me down in this blog (besides the mentioned losses and the utter lack of time) and I modified my strategy. Conclusion: this is the last post I’m doing both in English and Hungarian.

I admit to getting bored to hell translating everything I write and I suspect the same happens with my readers. So, for those who speak only one of the two languages and are aching to find out what’s going on on the other platform I suggest Google Translate, or you can always ask me. I probably won’t attempt an artistic translation, but I’ll be glad to tell you. All in all, here is what to expect:

  • Here, in my English-language writing world: posts on interesting reading or writing related stuff that grabs my attention. Pretty much like before.
  • On the Hungarian site: an interactive game I made up is coming very soon. Not much to do, a lot of fun to have! (If it goes well, I might do this in English as well. Later.)
  • On both platforms: posts every 2-3 days, not more.

See you here and there! 🙂

*learned this expression years ago in Microeconomics – I’m amazed by my memory’s strange ideas of using such pieces of knowledge

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Intimidating geniuses

Don’t you find sometimes that reading something truly ingenious and marvellous makes you wonder if you can ever create something that good? Like, my favourite authors and pieces often give me this feeling – especially that my English will, however hard I struggle, never be as good as a native speaker’s (not to mention a professional writer’s).

It must be like that with all kinds of art… or goals, actually. Take my thesis, for instance (burying me alive right now, btw). I’ve found some great sources to use, including a four hundred page PhD paper (focusing on a different market, but that’s beside the point), improved to what is IMHO close to perfection. And it’s a great source, not only of information, but also of motivation to see that the thing can be done so well… and meanwhile, am I the only one who sometimes wonders? Or not exactly wonders, because consciously I know that I shouldn’t care and I should go for my best and what I do is unique anyway blah blah… but the question mark stays right there, hanging in the air.

It may also be because I’m quite a competitive person and pretty much of a perfectionist. So people out there with similar thoughts, how do you cope? Is it only me getting blocked – and inspired – by seeing what is possible?

 

Categories: Writer's block | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Nanoeconomics

So here’s how it’s going for me so far. I think my best bet would be creating this new discipline, which makes microeconomics a thousand times smaller and combines it with NaNoWriMo and change my thesis topic to that. Then I could add the words of my thesis to my word count and have a chance of finishing both projects on time (end of November for both, of course) at a good quality and with some sleep during the month.

Since it’s an idea come too late, I’ll leave nanoeconomics to be my next project – or someone else’s (feel free to use) – and resolve to type a host of words this month, increase the amount of coffee and decrease sleep… this one needs some consideration – and panic – still. Adding two word counters to the blog could be a good motivator or a disaster. You’ll notice when I decide for the former and instal the counters. Probably I will be making good progress then and let’s hope the next challenge does the trick…

The next challenge being this weekend’s NaNoWriMo 111.111 words’ one – not written all by myself (that would make quite a challenge), but in a team of 10-11 people. This makes the desired word count around double the usual daily amount – but since I’m right now 3 days behind, I will go for even more to catch up. If you have some very practical and (literally) novel time management tips – or rather, ways of surviving without sleep -, please share. By the way, did you know that without sleep and food you would die of sleep deprivation before starving to death?

*I’ve just checked and nanoeconomics has already been invented… not quite my way, though. (Anyone remembers the Doghouse Diaries comic, with a form you just fill in and get the commission for making up something new – whether it has already been invented or not? I so need that right now!)

Categories: NaNo | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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