Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up five stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
Professional writers write for money. At least that’s been the case through the ages. The Internet—for all its greatness in opening platforms and making more opportunities available—has limited pros’ ability to make a living. As one article stated this week, most digital writing is not done for attention or money; it’s just a way to talk to someone.
We’ll also explore the use of sense memory in writing, the new creative lexicon, and more:
Writing to talk:
One of the worst things about the Internet for professional or aspiring authors, poets, playwrights, and other scribes is that it has made everyone a “writer.” The glut of Facebook posts, tweets, and blog posts has lessened the need for anyone to pay anyone to write. Still, the Internet has been great for those who just want someone to listen—which is basically the stuff that fills up your Facebook wall. Noah Berlatsky writes for The Atlantic
about why social media scribes are the modern-day letter writers.
"Letters used to be private—not so much, as it turns out, because the writers wanted privacy as because there simply was not the mechanism to make them more public. "
Fear as a muse:
Actors often call upon sense memory to do their job. What about writers? The inspiration for an article or blog post might just be another article or blog post, but novelist Sarah Jio writes in The New York Times
about the experience she recalls every time she has to write a frightening scene, and how valuable emotions from personal experience can be:
"I’ve learned that tapping into the hard stuff—whether it’s the fear of loss or a boogeyman lurking in childhood memories—is what ultimately gives a story the power to leap off the page and grab you by the collar."
Storytelling is a skill:
Everyone recognizes that people like stories. So much so that "storytelling" is in danger of becoming more of a marketing term than a communication device. Not everyone is good at it, and the ones who are
proficient don’t necessarily lead more interesting lives. As Refe Tuma writes in this piece for Medium
"Interesting people often lead surprisingly ordinary lives, but they are not ordinary. What sets them apart is their ability to tell a good story."
[RELATED: Learn the 7 elements of storytelling with video at this one day video boot camp.]
Creativity from A to Z:
Speaking of marketing buzzwords, a group from BBH Labs has published a book called “ABCs of Contemporary Creatives” that taps each letter of the alphabet for a term that is often applied to creative projects. Each letter has an impressive illustration by a well-known artist. It might just be fun to look at, but as writers, you’ll want to speak the language of creatives, right?
How do you write?
Biographies and inspirations are things that many readers want to know about their favorite writers. It helps explain why George Orwell’s "Why I Write" is one of his most famous essays. The Dangerous Minds
blog examines Orwell’s story, featuring an interesting video montage in which writers from several disciplines discuss the things they’ve learned about writing. Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, and Jonathan Franzen, among others, are featured.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.