Why You Should Edit Your Writing When You’re Hungover

At last, some practical advice on editing your own work:

hangover3by Patrick Allan

You may have heard the old quote “write drunk, edit sober,” but it might actually be better to edit when you’re still hungover.

Knocking back a few beers can be good for your creativity, but you’ll usually pay for it the next morning. While you might feel like you’re dying, Frank Kelly Rich, the Editor of Modern Drunkard Magazine, explains that hangovers might be pretty useful after all:

…hangovers are, however, perfectly suited for making hard and cruel decisions, so they’re fantastic for editing. When you’re in that sort of mood, it’s easy—even enjoyable—to bayonet those ‘little darlings’ writers are always trying to sneak into their work….

Read it all at Lifehacker

And for a few other perspectives go HERE

Meanwhile, on the Copyright War Battle Front

Did you know that the best possible way to increase your creative productivity is to get a copyright lawyer? Yeah, we didn’t either. But lookee here, fellow ignoramii:

Does that cute little "c" in "Copyright" actually mean "create?"

Does that cute little “c” in “Copyright” actually mean “create?”

Are lawyers the driving force behind artistic freedom?
by Zach Graves

Are lawyers the driving force behind artistic freedom? Astonishingly, that’s the impression you get when you read the Copyright Alliance’s account of a recent panel on music copyright hosted at George Mason University. To be clear, they note the importance of creators, in the sense that:

Intellectual property drives economic and artistic freedom, thereby supporting a professional class of musicians and innovations that continue to fuel the creation of music.

But this emphasis aims to privilege the copyright lawyers, as if copyright enforcement were the primary source of artistic creativity. Certainly, copyright plays an important role in securing incentives for creators. But it’s absurd to suggest that regulatory monopolies are the only source of artistic creation and freedom or that stronger intellectual-property laws are always in the best interest of artists. Rather, the history of intellectual-property laws have often been a double-edged sword for creators.

There are numerous examples of overly broad intellectual-property laws being used to limit free expression. Just take a look at EFF’s Takedown Hall of Shame. Or, in the music industry, the recent judgment against Pharrell and Robin Thicke (presumably, to provide further incentive for the creativity of the late, lamented Marvin Gaye). Or the video game maker who was sued for using the likeness of Gen. George S. Patton. The absurdities go on and on.

While intellectual property is an important legal protection that helps encourage creation, it has its limits. Where intellectual-property laws are too weak, there may be insufficient incentive to create. But where they are too strong, they impose costly restrictions on other creative freedoms and distort the market to transfer unearned wealth from consumers to rights holders. The latter, it should be noted, aren’t always artists. This is especially true in the music industry, where entrenched middlemen armed with large legal teams extract most of the revenues.

Our nation’s founders took steps to achieve the proper balance. Indeed, we must not forget that the constitutional basis of our intellectual property system is a utilitarian one. The Progress Clause grants Congress power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The clause doesn’t create a “property right,” as such, any more than Article I’s grant of war-declaration powers to Congress creates a property right in declarations of war. The Progress Clause creates a legislative power, with instructions to use it as an incentive for creation. Where such exercises of power provide appropriate incentives — or, worse, undermine other incentives — they ought to be constrained.

Human nature being what it is, it’s not surprising that the copyright industries have succeeded, over the years, in ratcheting up copyright protections with less attention to the underlying theory of the Progress Clause. Thus, copyright terms today are nearly 580 percent longer than at the time of the founders, and extend to works far beyond the maps, charts and books that originally were covered….

Read it all at Techdirt

When you need inspiration, figure out what you really need to know

Nathan Bransford has a few words for us now, about how to handle something he doesn’t believe in. Ah, life’s little secrets – sometimes they seem so overwhelming, and then they turn out to be nothing at all:

need to know

by Nathan Bransford

I’m on record saying writer’s block doesn’t exist.

When I say that, I’m not saying that you won’t experience a feeling of idea-lessness or that life circumstances will never get in the way of your writing. Lots of people go through stretches where it is legitimately impossible to write.

What I mean is that most commonly, that feeling of writer’s block is just a feeling that you can actually power through.

When you head down that path, the absolute most helpful thing to do is to figure out the problem. Figure out why you can’t think of an idea. What is it that you’re trying to solve in the book?

Here’s what I mean. I’m at a stage in writing my new novel where I legitimately don’t know what’s going to happen next. And I got stuck. I seriously couldn’t think of what to write next. But rather than stare at the blinking cursor of doom, I started creating structure around the problem.

I know that the main character is currently at Point A, and eventually she’ll need to get to Point B. So I started cataloguing some of the things that need to happen before Point B….

Read it all at Nathan Bransford’s blog

Are Stories Still Important?

Time now for a sweet little post by the TV blogger we here at TVWriter™ respect the most. Some might call what follows a rant. We’re thinking of it as a lesson…but is it one that will be learned in time?

by Ken Levine

Cat Climbing PoleAre Stories Still Important?

A lot of Millennials say no. They point out that webisodes are very popular and a recent survey claimed that 2:26 is the optimum length. So who needs to kill themselves coming up with stories? They’re a royal pain in the ass to concoct and audiences prefer their entertainment in bite-sized portions. Who needs an ingenious beginning, middle, and end when you can show a cat trying to climb a greased pole?

Here’s the problem with that theory (besides the fact that it’s incredibly lazy) – two minute webisodes are like pieces of candy. There’s no real nourishment, nothing really satisfying or long lasting about them. You watch, you maybe chuckle, and you move on. It’s a little novelty. You never get really invested in the characters.

And that’s the key. Once you care about a character the interest level goes way up. And you need time to create that connection between the character and the viewer.

There have been myriads of entertainment forms down through the ages – from live theater to literature to filmed works of various lengths designed for various screens. But the principle of good drama remains the same. People want to be engrossed, surprised, delighted, taken to new worlds,  scared shitless, aroused, and involved. They want the subject matter to resonate, they want to maybe learn a thing or two along the way, and they want a certain amount of complexity. You can’t live on a diet of mini-Snickers bars (although I am this week directing INSTANT MOM).

Read it all at Ken Levine’s super blog

How corporate America killed my writing

via lowriderarte.com

via lowriderarte.com

by Jim Sollisch

A good editor makes a good writer’s writing very good. A bad editor gives your writing a haircut with a chain saw.

And as a copywriter at an ad agency, I work pretty much exclusively with really bad editors. It’s not fair to call them editors; they are my clients, often marketing managers or communication specialists. Many have MBAs and are brilliant at so many things. Writing not included. They’ve had the English knocked out of them. Now, they speak Power Point. Worst case scenario, my work is edited or critiqued by the legal department or by committees.

It’s the same for so many professional writers. Public relations writers have their annual report copy “edited” by corporate executives or their minions. Technical writers have their work “edited” by engineers. And if you buy a corporate speechwriter a drink, be prepared to hear about the horrors of writing for the tone deaf.

We professional writers aren’t precious little literati. We know we aren’t authors or artists. Most days we’re witty sales people. On our best days, we’re storytellers, craftsman. We do care deeply about language. We want our words to dance to a particular rhythm.

One of the tools we use is repetition. Unfortunately, it’s the tool most despised by bad editors. Charles Dickens would never have gotten his most famous sentence through the corporate communications specialist. The edited version would read like this: “It was the best and worst of times.” A savings of four words that makes sublime into subpar.

At one point in his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. starts eight sentences in a row with the words, “I have a dream.”

And then near the close of the most famous speech in American history, he starts six sentences with the words “Let freedom ring.”

My clients would sit Martin down and take out a big old thesaurus.  They’d help him see that “dream” could become “vision” in certain places.  In others, “idea” might work. But mostly, they’d just insist that he find new ways to start sentences….

Read it all at the Washington Post

How to Avoid Turning Into a Jerk When You’re Surrounded by Jerks

One day, years ago, while our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, was producing the Emmy Award winning series, POLICE STORY, the head of Columbia Pictures Television, the studio behind the show, paid a surprise visit to his office.

LB was uncomfortable with this because, as he tells it, “I was always uncomfortable around the Gerb [David Gerber, President of the studio). He was a literally awe-inspiring bully and I was terrified of him. But I wasn’t worried this time around because we’d just gotten both rave reviews and great numbers for the most recent episode. I figured maybe, just once, he would give the staff the thumbs up.

“Instead,” continues LB, “he reamed us up, down, and sideways for every mistake and inefficiency in the world since before the birth of Christ. After he swaggered out, I stared at his assistant, who was looking after the boss with his eyes gleaming in total adoration.

“‘Wow,'” the assistant said. ‘That was amazing.'”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” LB demanded. “That was a major asshole move.”

The assistant, who shall be nameless because our Beloved Leader honestly doesn’t remember his name, sighed. “Sorry, man,” he said. “But you know how it is. Aren’t we all aspiring to be assholes?”

Which leads to the question: How does this kind of aspiration come to be? How, when we’re part of a culture that celebrates what we hate most, can we stop ourselves from falling into line with it?

Think about it while you read this absolutely showbiz-free take on the matter:

just-another-day-on-the-jobby Kristin Wong

Working in retail, I still remember one of my worst customers. He handed me a quarter and what looked like a single one dollar bill. I said, “Sorry, the total is two twenty-five.” He pulled apart two crisp bills, which I didn’t notice were stuck together, and slowly counted, “One…two. Do you speak English? Do you know math?” I was fuming, but I said nothing. I was, however, short with everyone else that day, until a friend asked, “what’s your problem?” The problem was: I let that jerk turn me into an jerk, too.

This is something that happens to me all the time, and I think it happens to a lot of us. You’re a nice enough person, but you’re put in an environment where everyone is rude, and next thing you know, you’re rude, too. Maybe someone just gets under your skin and you don’t even realize it’s happening. Or maybe all of your friends are kind of jerks, and you gradually start becoming more like them.

Whatever the scenario, this happens because rudeness is contagious. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers had subjects reply to a neutral email. Some of the subjects watched a video of a rude interaction before replying, and their replies were a lot more hostile. That experiment and two others were enough for researchers to conclude:

Specifically, we show that rudeness activates a semantic network of related concepts in individuals’ minds, and that this activation influences individual’s hostile behaviors. In sum, in these 3 studies we show that just like the common cold, common negative behaviors can spread easily and have significant consequences for people in organizations

Whether it’s rude coworkers, nasty Internet trolls, or just impolite strangers you encounter out running errands, here’s how to avoid catching someone else’s jerky behavior….

Read it all Lifehacker