Good to Great Habits - Computer keyboard

6 Proven Habits that can take you from Good to Great

Habits make or break you. Sound like a cliché?

But here’s one cliché that has stood the test of time and deserves its place in the Hall of Fame for Clichés.

Your habits determine how far you will succeed in your professional and personal life. The Great Philosopher Aristotle had this to say about our habits.

“Quality is not an act, its a habit.” ~Aristotle

1. Morning Routine

A great morning routine is at the top of every successful individual’s list of habits. From Presidents to CEOs, Writers and Bloggers, Bodybuilders, Athletes and every individual at the top of his field will tell you that his success is because he efficiently utilizes those crucial hours in the morning.

Benjamin Hardy, author of the book Will Power Doesn’t Work, advocates the time between 5-7 am to be the most productive for him and attributes all his success to achieving a peak state in this time. He dedicates his morning hours to prayer, reading, and learning.

So what do you actually do in the morning?

Firstly, meditate. Meditation is not some hocus pocus magic technique, nor is it the deep breathing techniques practiced by all those yoga Gurus, meditation is mainly about introspection.

How you meditate is your choice completely! Ray Dalio, the billionaire investor practices Transcendental Meditation. Robert Green the author of 48 Laws of Power practices a form of Zen meditation.

Meditating will boost your creativity, give you mental peace and therefore help you take better decisions.

After meditating for some time plan out your day.

And most importantly spend your mornings reading and learning.

2. Reading

“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.” ~ Charlie Munger

I cannot advocate reading enough. If you truly want to be a master in your field, you must be willing to spend most of your time learning.

You must Read, Read and then Read some more.

Read Fiction, Non-Fiction, Autobiographies, Poetry, History, Science Fiction… the list goes on. Everything you read will give you perspective, it will give you a peep into the author’s soul. You will learn about their hopes, dreams, and fallacies. You will live many lives while you read.

We can never learn everything from experience, we just never live long enough, so read a book and practice vicarious learning.

Reading will give you skills you didn’t even know you were acquiring.

Read to learn, read for entertainment, read while you eat, read while in the toilet and read when driving, hello audiobooks!

The only way for you to excel in life is by learning and for continuous learning, you must read.

If I haven’t made myself clear, Read!!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

3. Journaling

Journaling can and will change your life.

Writing down your thoughts is known to be highly therapeutic and helps you de-stress.

It also helps you figure out your goals and how you can achieve them. This is similar to meditation, but instead of sitting silently and not thinking, you sit down with a pen and paper and make an effort to think.

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius practiced journaling every day in the morning, his journals were found and published. They are called Meditations Marcus Aurelius and serve as one of the main manuals for Stoics the world over. It is one of those must read books that has the ability to change your life.

A journal will help you take inventory of your life, it will help you stop and think about not only what you are doing but why you are doing it, and that is more important than the what.

4. Schedule/To-Do List

If you’re working on several projects which will be the case, if you’re trying to do more in less time, then it is a good idea to prioritize, lest you get overwhelmed

So scheduling is your best friend.

Create a daily To-Do List of your tasks. Obviously, the most important tasks will go at the top and the less important ones below those.

What I have realized from doing this is that I can focus more readily on the tasks that are a priority, the tasks that I can’t handle today are postponed for the next day. With time you will become more efficient and require less time to do the same number of tasks.

5. Working with Purpose

You will never know where you end up if you don’t know where you’re going, or something like that.

Basically what I mean is create and set time-bound goals.

Having an aim will keep you motivated and help you prioritize your life based on your goals.

I have a great example of this. In 1979  the Harvard Business School did a study on goal setting, they asked all the students from the class, the same question

Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment? 

What they found out was,

  • 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all
  • 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
  • 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans

Then 10 years later they followed up with these students and here is what they found

  •  13% of the class that had set written goals but had not created plans, were making twice as much money as the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all.
  • 3% of the class that had both written goals and a plan, were making ten times as much as the rest of the 97% of the class

So there you go. I don’t think you need further proof?

6. Find a mentor

Like the Saint Kabir said

“गुरु बिन ज्ञान न उपजै,
गुरु बिन मिलै न मोष।
गुरु बिन लखै न सत्य को,
गुरु बिन मिटे न दोष॥”

(English Translation)

“Knowledge doesn’t blossom without a Guru,

There is no Enlightenment without the Guru,

You cannot recognize the Truth without the Guru,

You will not get rid of your Sins without the Guru.”

It is also very important to pick a good mentor, one who knows what he’s doing and can lead the way for you. Find a mentor who inspires you, believes in your potential and makes you think like you’ve never thought before.

A mentor has the ability to unlock doors for you, you ever even knew existed.

Warren Buffet as a young man took on Benjamin Graham as his mentor and credits a big part of his success to him.

If you can’t find a mentor, find a community of like-minded people, with similar goals.

Surround yourself with people who have goals and will help you in achieving yours.

Make it a habit to be the dumbest person in the room and it will redefine your life.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” 
~John Donne

And finally, I will leave you with another great quote that summarizes this article.

“Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.” ~ John Locke

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A Review of 1984 by George Orwell

Oceania has been in a state of war since the 70’s. It is governed by a central authority called the Party. This Party is represented by Big Brother.

The state of the country is miserable. Everything is rationed and the Inner party members or the highest authorities are constantly playing with facts and altering them as to keep the public confused. They uphold the doctrines of,

WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

The people of Oceania do not have the freedom to think, act, have sex or believe anything other than what the Party wants. Every individual is watched at all times, all actions are recorded and observed. Any act against the doctrines of the Party is considered Thoughtcrime and the individuals who go against these rules are captured and tortured at the Ministry of Love.

Winston is a 39 year-old member of the Outer Party of Oceania. He works in the Ministry of Truth and his job entails rewriting historical records according to the Party’s wishes.

He meets a beautiful young woman called Julia, who professes her love for him. They have an affair. They both hate the Party and are guilty of Thoughtcrime. Eventually, they are both caught and tortured in the Ministry of Love.

This book is about Winston’s struggle with the Party’s ideologies and how he overcomes his imprisonment.

 

Review

Orwell is a master at his art, as is obvious from the classic status his books have received. 1984 is a must read on most lists and will remain so, simply because of the depth of thought the author has gone through in creating this dystopian universe where communism rules and Big Brother is the ideology.

1984 is a political fiction which I believe is George Orwell’s forte.

This book is inspired by the events of World War II,  where the Churchill government controlled the publications newspapers and other media, to show only what the government was lobbying.

It is one of the original dystopian novels to be published.

I loved this book, although some might find it depressing, it is deep and thought-provoking like other Orwellian works.

Quotes

“It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body.”

“Do you realise that the past, starting from yesterday has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s ina few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there.”

“War, it will be seen, not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it ina psychologically accptable way.”

“The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of indeppendent thought.

“What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds.”

To buy books by George Orwell, check out the links below.

 

 

7 Awesome Hacks for finding the best Blog Post Topics

If you’re a blogger, the hardest part of writing can be coming up with fresh ideas every week. This is an endless activity and can be the one activity that takes up most of your time.

As a writer and blogger, I understand how frustrating it can be to come with good ideas that people might be interested in, so I have developed a few sources of inspiration that help me come up with my own ideas. Like Mark Twain said,

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

1. Write in the morning

I write first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh and relaxed. This is the best time to write and most authors advocate this as the best time to write.

Every morning I write down five ideas for blog posts. I read up on those ideas and write rough drafts of at least two of those posts on the next day. By the third day, I have one of these posts ready to be published.

2. Read

This is the best way to find ideas. In fact, sometimes reading something completely unrelated to your field can inspire you to connect the dots and find new perspectives on your own work/niche.

Subscribe to blogs in your field, set up RSS feeds, there are some great apps that you can download on your phone such a Feedly and Innoreader, these make it easier to follow your favourite blogs and online magazines.

Also look for inspiration offline, you will find magazines and books on the topics of your choice. You must read a lot, it is the key to good writing.

3. Quora

Quora, is a platform for asking and answering questions. You create a profile and selects topics that interest you. Then the website will show you notifications whenever a question related to these topics is asked. This is a great way of finding out what people’s problems are and come up with solution based posts.

You will find some really out of the box ideas on it and it can be a lot of fun engaging with potential readers while you answer their questions as well.

If you use it well Quora can also help you drive traffic to your blog.

4. Ask your audience

If you have social media following, you can always engage with them and ask them what their questions are on a particular topic.

The best medium to do that is Twitter, but Facebook also works well for the purpose.

You can start a Facebook poll asking your audience to vote on a blog post idea and get feedback on what your audience wants to read.

5. Social Media

When writing about brands its good to know about their product launches and press releases, so follow relevant brands on social media.

Also follow the bigger influencers, they are generally the first ones to know about new products and will give you information before date.

6. Join groups

I cannot stress this enough, blogging is not an isolated activity, you need to be a part of a community and actively engage with others to know about what’s trending and what others are reading.

People also ask questions on groups. They share their own ideas and posts, you might meet some very interesting people while picking up the best tips ever.

A lot of PR people are part of these niche-specific groups and you might also end up getting picked to be a brand influencer.

7. Google Alerts

Google ALerts is a notification service. You can set up specific keywords in Google Alerts to find the latest articles published on the web related to your keyword. For example, if my niche is writing and I’m looking to find magazine call for submissions, I can set up an alert for my email and once a day Google Alerts send me an email that contains all the articles published on the specific keyword “Magazine Call for Submissions”, this is a very easy way of finding relevant and latest content.

The only thing you must be mindful of is to pick the right keywords, otherwise, you will be getting crazy emails, also the emails come every day, so it gets annoying sometimes, especially when you haven’t had time to go through them and they’ve just piled up.(guilty!)

OK. So those were my hacks for finding interesting and trending topics to write about. If you know any other hacks, please share them in the comments below!

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Dealing with Bad Writing - Typewriter

How to finish writing your first novel?

Something really shocking happened today, I am a part of several writing groups on Facebook and one of the admins to a group asked the members, “What their dream as an author is?”

Now I was expecting very deep and eloquent answers from all the brilliant aspiring authors in the group, but surprisingly most of the replies were a very disappointing,“I’m just aiming to finish a novel”.

This idea really inspired me to write this particular post because while I am an aspiring author who still hasn’t even published her first novel, I can very confidently tell you I am well on my way to at least finishing it.

If you are also struggling to finish your novel, follow these simple rules. They are simple and have been verified to work for many a published author the likes of Stephen King, Haruki Murakami.

1. WRITING ROUTINES

Most writers have their own routine. But, what is common amongst them is a daily habit of writing.  I write daily, as do all established writers. Stephen King for example, when he’s working on a novel works on all holidays including Christmas and even his own Birthday. That is the dedication and that’s how you get work done.

Most writers also advocate writing in the morning. I myself believe I write my best in the morning, with a fresh mind. Ryan Holiday also writes in the morning, he believes writing is his profession and treats it like one.

“I am sharpest and least imposed on in the morning
so that’s when I write. I have a ritual: I get up, I shower, I get dressed as
though I am going to a job and then I show up to work.” ~Ryan Holiday

 

2. HAVE A DAILY GOAL 

Set a daily writing goal for yourself, this can be the number of pages you write or just the number of words. Don’t stop until you’ve finished writing your set number. Stephen King and John Grisham both aim for 2000 words daily.

Stephen King recommends 1000 words daily for a new writer, but if you have a full-time job and just can’t find time to do that, write 500 words, heck write 200 words if you only have a few minutes. But stick to it! A novel is generally between 50,000-100,000 words, if you write a 1000 words a day regularly you’ll be done with the novel in a little over 3 months.

 

3. ACCEPT YOUR BAD WRITING

Yes…You read that right…accept your bad writing. You know you put off writing when you can’t write well.

There are days when I sit at my laptop staring at a blank screen and I’m unable to put one coherent sentence in my text editor. These are days I lack motivation and inspiration, but really great writers or at least the established ones always recommend a daily writing habit, so how do you exactly write every day when you’re not motivated or have nothing good to write about.

I know you’re thinking, why would anyone buy my book or read my blog if I don’t write well?Well, you’re not going to sell a book or publish a post, you don’t ever write either.

Picture this, you are at your desk, you are typing away at your computer and the words are just flowing. You are feeling your characters, the situation is absolutely clear in your head and the words are just automatically flowing out of your head into that page.

Now ask yourself how many days in the last month have been like that for you?

If I had to answer that question I’d say very few. Maybe once a week. Now Imagine if I only wrote on days I was feeling this free flow of inspiration. It would take me a few years to complete an entire novel.

Instead, if I just accepted that some days are going to be bad and wrote anyways, I would end up with my novel in a few months and then I can edit it to make it better.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without
putting a word on paper.” ~E.B. White

 

4. REWRITE 

You know when you watch a movie about a writer, and they’re just typing away at that dusty old typewriter, and they just pick the pages out, and put them in an envelope addressed to the editor? Yeah, that was they’re last rewrite, not their first draft!

Great writers, rewrite and edit their work multiple times before they think its any good. They have accepted their bad writing too.

Write and edit every day to make improvements. This daily practice will in time reduce the number of rewrites you need to do and the editing process will become shorter as well.

There is a great quote by JK Rowling the author of the Harry Potter Series.

“You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.”

In the end, all I want to say is keep writing, keep working at it, no matter what. If this is your dream, keep trying to make it your reality. All good things come to those who wait and work diligently.

I hope this post helped you find your way to finishing that ever elusive first novel. Do leave me a comment if you have any other suggestions.

I love reading all your comments. Thank you for reading this post, if you’re interested in learning more about writing, I have a great post on How to write a best-selling novel like Stephen King? 

 

 

 

How to write like a cartoonist? - Funny Dice

How to write humor like a Cartoonist?

Have you ever looked at the comic strip in your daily newspaper and wondered how did the writer come up with such an amazing piece?

Well, according to Scott Adams there is an actual formula for creating humor and he uses it every time to create his popular strip Dilbert.

It’s a fact that if you do something long enough you will start to develop your own techniques and methodology, but what Scott says is that every piece of humor no matter who writes will be based on this theory of his.

This ingenious formula of humor, which he calls his Dimensions of Humor can be considered more of a theorem that exists in nature, which he has observed and identified.

According to the theorem, humor is classified into six distinct elements. These are Clever, Naughty, Bizarre, Cruel, Cute, and Recognizable.

And if you want to make your joke really effective you should have at least two of the elements in it. Anything more than two makes your joke even better.

THE SIX DIMENSIONS OF HUMOR

Let’s understand these elements

  • Clever: Well if you’re smart then your jokes must be too. Clever is a combination of words of things that people didn’t think you could combine. The first thing that comes to my mind is the popular sitcom Big Bang Theory, especially Sheldon’s punches are fantastic.
  • Naughty: We all know what that refers to, sex or bathroom jokes. The combination fo naughty and clever will always give you a great result.
  • Bizarre: This is the most powerful element. Anything strange or out of the ordinary. Such as when Ford Prefect sticks a Babel Fish in Arthur’s ear in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Cruel: Any act that is unkind, is a staple in humor. Just think of Charlie Chaplin and his skits, they were always full of people being kicked, hit or being sprinkled with flour.
  • Cute: Mostly refers to animals or kids. In fact, even animal related analogies add to the humor.
  • Recognizable: Humour is about people and the more familiar the story you’re telling the funnier people will find it.

OTHER TIPS ON WRITING HUMOR

Some extra tips for humor writing.

  • Choose an interesting topic. When writing humor, if your topic doesn’t already have an element of humor in it, your joke is going to fall flat.
  • Humor is about people and how they act, so make it believable. There is humor in most of our everyday acts, you just need to find it.
  • The best type of humor is where you make the reader think and analyze. When your reader is reading and making a neural connection that is when you joke is really going to blow his mind.
  • Funny words immediately help the readers prep themselves for what’s coming next, so use them.

Scott Adams is not just a cartoonist but also an established author. He has written several fiction and non-ficiton works of which the latest Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter in which he predicted Trump’s win, two years prior to the election has brought him a lot of fame or infamy.

If you’re interested in reading more about Scott Adams writing here are some links to his work.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703843804575534160113096560

Humor Writing Tutorial

 

Know any funny words? Please share them down below. I love reading your comments! Thanks for reading.

🙂