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Happiness And The Endless List Of The Wonderful Effects Of Blogging

463406_3360068930269_2066252411_oI did it again.

I published this article about the resignation of the Pope only to find myself redrafting and re-editing almost the entire last paragraphs. I published it, unpublished it, and then published it again. After reading the entire post before the redraft, I felt there was something wrong with it. Some of that oomph was missing. There was something in the last paragraphs that seemed incoherent and that just didn’t seamlessly connect and flow with the previous paragraphs, even the entire text. And then, I saw it.

I wish I had saved a copy of it so I can show here the difference between the first edition and the latest edition which is the one I just re-published now. But I had already deleted it. In the previous paragraphs, I was talking about being a convenient Catholic, and quoted an author’s views about being one, from an article in his newspaper column. After that, I went about discussing the Pope Benedict XVI’s health and age, but failed to make a connection between the Pontiff’s health and my being a convenient Catholic.

I didn’t succeed in connecting the three intended themes of the article which were, namely: the Pope’s resignation, his health, and my being a convenient Catholic. Now, with the latest edition, I think I succeeded in doing just that. Well, at least I hope did. After 21 blog posts, one would like to think that one gets better at writing and editing.

With blogging, I get to do, albeit in a small way, what I’ve always wanted to be (among other ambitions):  writer and editor. I have always had this dream of becoming an owner and editor of a publishing empire,  and of writing a good novel, too. And blogging has been tremendously instrumental in making me want even more to become an Editor-in-Chief of reputable magazines like the Paris Review, and publishing houses like Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

And of course, to become a damn good novelist.

Because of blogging, I began to be more objective when it comes to my own writing. I started to see my writing from another writer’s and reader’s perspective. And it made me ask five important questions that I think became my own formula for discerning good writing from bad writing — especially of my own. Being critical of one’s own work makes it easier to be truly objective. And if I am to become a damn good novelist someday, I’d better start by being hard on myself because friends and family may say you’re good even if you wrote them the most unimaginative article in the world.

So with the unreliability of objectivity from others, I came up with my formulaic good-from-bad-writing discernment questions. They are as follows:

1. “Is this idea brilliant or relevant enough to inspire, educate, and entertain or terribly amorphous and irrelevant?”

2. “Is this verbosity really necessary or just an exercise of monstrous self-indulgence?

3. “Is this a reflection of a writer writing from the heart or or a reflection of a writer just trying to impress?”

4. “Is this good enough to make others think it is serious writing or bad enough to be marked down as amateurish?”

5. “Is this a catharsis of pent-up creative energy and artistry or just a feeble attempt at self-expression?

I came up with these questions because the blogging process is for the most part a thinking process, too — a creative one at that. Indeed, blogging forces you to become a better writer and editor. But also it makes you a better thinker and questioner — a very objective thinker and questioner.

Good writing, I believe, is something that should reflect your passions and personality. With blogging, I hope to do just that. To write something that reflects my passions and, in my case, multiple personalities.

Kurt Vonnegut, the author, says that when you write about something that you love, familiar with, and passionate about, it will come across as something that comes from the heart. And my heart I give completely to everything I write. (I hope that’s what comes across in all my blog posts). This is exactly why I think most blog posts by serious bloggers are, in essence, effective and persuasive because the people who write them are those who truly believe in what they’re saying. And they’re sharing things that are really going to be of use to others.

But of course, the downside to blogging is that sometimes one can be a little too narcissistic and whiny, if left unchecked. Nowadays, it’s easy to believe or to delude oneself into thinking that we are the center of the universe because Internet has made a small global village of  the world that it’s practically easy to be an Internet sensation now. But there’s nothing more unattractive than self-indulgent and narcissistic writers.

Trust me, I’ve gone down that road before, and quite ironically, they were not my proudest moments, and it didn’t produce the best writing, too. It is almost always is a recipe for bad writing because it doesn’t do anything except to shamelessly promote and glorify oneself. Narcissistic writing is an act of tomfoolery that should not be allowed further if one wishes to gain a steady influx of readership.

Like I said in a previous post, there’s only so much about oneself that one can talk about. Blogging is a great avenue to talk about topics that interest you, and should make you search your mind and unleash that untapped imagination. The possibilities are practically endless.

There are so many things out there you can talk about that doesn’t always have to be about you and what you bought yesterday at the grocery store, or about how you have a fabulous pimple right at the tip of your nose, or that you have mood swings all the time because of your bipolar disorder. People don’t want to hear about your endless shopping lists, or your latest pimple alert, or your temper tantrums and how you almost knocked someone out just because you are deliciously bipolar like me.

No. What people would rather hear you talk about is how one of your shopping lists can help remove the stain of their soiled shirts. Or how you tried out this new topical ointment that could help that cute pimple at the tip of your nose go away. (Oh, and don’t forget to strike a pose, take a picture of your top model pimple look and show the after photo, too, of your new pimple-less face). And people would rather have you share how your new medications helped stabilize your Britney Spears mood swings, and made you stop believing that you’re Jesus H. Christ the Superstar.

The key is to connect with the readers. That’s what blogging or any form of writing is all about. Blogging, I believe, if I may say so myself, brings out the best in me. It forces me to be a better writer and editor. It makes me talk less about my numerous, prodigious talents and  my unrivaled genius. And yes, it makes me a better thinker. But more important than all of these combined, what blogging does is it makes me become a better sharer, dreamer, and imaginer. And it gives me such a horrible sense of humor, too. At least now I know, thanks to blogging, that comedy is not for me. Still, blogging makes me happy — and terribly, terribly so.

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The 11 Best IPhone Apps/Widgets Every Writer Should Have

AppsThe truth is I still don’t know the difference between an application and a widget. But for this blog post, let us call anything we download from Apple’s Application Store as either apps or widgets, no distinction. You see, I am not a techie, and I really don’t care much about phones. When someone gave me an IPhone for Christmas, I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. I thought high-end phones were just a waste of money since all I needed was to make calls, text, and email some business partners, investors, and important clients — all these things I could do with just about any other phone and my laptop.

But I had a change of heart when I downloaded some of the best apps/widgets I think every writer should have, assuming you have an Internet connection and using an IPhone. Here they are — the applications that I swear will make your writing life easier whether you’re in transit or in your own room:

1. Dictionary.com

I swear by this application. You will be glad you downloaded it. With millions of words and a comprehensive list of synonyms and antonyms, and favorite words, you’ll have that elusive word in no time.

Description:

Top-rated app with trusted reference content from Dictionary.com & Thesaurus.com. WORKS OFFLINE – no Internet connection needed when searching words. ★ Time Magazine ‘Top 10 Back-To-School App’, Apple ‘Top 10 App’ High School Survival Guide, Winner: CNET Top 100 Mobile App Award ★ (1)

Features: (2)
* English Dictionary and Thesaurus – over 2,000,000 definitions, synonyms & antonyms
* Offline access – no Internet connection needed for most content
* Daily content, including Word of the Day & The Hot Word
* Audio pronunciation
* Example sentences

2. Lists For Writers

Whenever you need some inspiration for your novel, all you have to do is check this application for prompts, and voila, it will release the creative juices you need for that next chapter or for that next book.

Decription:

Lists for Writers is a great addition to any writer’s toolbox. Helpful to both novice and expert writers alike, this app delivers list after list of prompts and ideas for your brainstorming sessions: names, character traits, plot lines, occupations, obsessions, action verbs, and much more. (1)

3. Spice Mobile

Looking for that perfect phrase for your book, or to find ways to describe your character? Are you looking for that phrase that will make your protagonist jump off the pages, then you should download Spice Mobile, the best phrase thesaurus application that will give you the oomph your book needs. With over 8,000 keywords and over 22,000 creative phrases, you can paint your book with beautiful descriptions. Definitely a must-download writing reference application.

4. 15,000 Useful Phrases

The title of the application says it all. With 15,000 “business”, “felicitous”, “literary”, “significant”, and “impressive” phrases you can use for speaking and writing, you can’t go wrong with this application. Whether you are writing creative fiction or creative nonfiction, this will sure surely help you with all the dialogue you need for your characters — and for striking up a  wonderful conversation.

5. Literary Analysis Guide

This application was actually made for students and grad students of prose and literature, but even if you’re already a professional writer, it helps to be reminded of what the elements and concepts of literature are. What’s good about this is that you can dissect categorically the parts of a prose, poetry, and rhetoric, and from there you can give an in-depth analysis and review of a novel, a poem, or any piece of literature. Great, especially, for young book reviewers and writers.

Description/How To Use: (1)

“By arranging the elements of literature graphically around three wheels (poetry, prose, and rhetoric), [you]’ll be able to visualize how the elements of literature develop style and meaning. Click on any of the literary terms listed around the wheels, and a screen appears with a detailed definition of the term, several examples from literature, and additional questions to ask yourself about how that device is employed in the literature you are currently studying. Click on “Figures of Speech” from any of the three wheels, and the “Figures of Speech Wheel” appears, which functions in the same way as the three others.”

6. The Paris Review

Launched in October of 2012, The Paris Review’s Iphone/Ipad app is relatively new, but certainly a welcome addition to the widgets/applications in your Iphone. No self-respecting writer should miss this writer’s holy grail of an application. Although I would still prefer the real printed version, this would definitely suffice as a close substitute. The collection of interviews with authors, thankfully, are free, the other sections are for subscription–but it’s worth every cent. It’s The The Paris Review, damn it. Need I say more?

7. WordPress

Being a WordPress blogger, I was ecstatic when I found out I could blog right from my own Iphone. Trust me, I did it many times, and it’s as good as blogging from your own laptop. It’s easy to learn, and quite easy to navigate. I love it, and I think you’ll love it, too. If you have an Iphone and a WordPress account, you should definitely download this little gem.

8. The Huffington Post

It’s the one-stop shop for all writers of the news junkie persuasion. By far the most successful news/blog site today, The Huffington Post is the best resource of all things relevant at the moment. With sections on lifestyle, arts and culture, politics, entertainment, media, business, and even books, this should be on the home page of your Iphone. You’ll be updated on the latest happenings and you can even get glimpses of inspiration from stories from around the globe. Oh, and the best part is — it’s free!

9. Goodreads

With over 10 miilion members, and over a whopping 300 million titles available, you will literally never run out of choices from one the biggest book sites on Earth. You can share your notes and comments, what you’re currently reading, and your book reviews, bookmark favorites, create a list of to-read books, and download thousands of free e-books. I actually downloaded some of the free e-books by my favorite classic authors. And when you’re it a bookstore and want to include a book in your to-read list, just simply scan the barcode using the barcode scanner, and you won’t have to forget the book that you want to read so you can buy it next time.

10. Amazon

Any writer or author who does not have this on his Iphone should be ashamed of himself. If you want to get the best deals, and check out the latest reviews you must download this. With over millions of book choices, you’ll be breaking the bank in no time with their 1-Click order button once you set up your payment account details. For e-books, you can check it out with your Kindle for PC, Ipad, or Iphone; for paperback versions, you’ll have to wait for days, of course. And who knows? Maybe  the next Amazon Breakout Novel Award will go to your book so tell your other author and writer friends to download this application so they can buy your book.

11. Kindle

Lastly, we have the Kindle application, one of the required applications so you can download and read the e-books from Amazon, which is why it should be included in your top widget/app list. With millions of Kindle e-books out now, and with a wide selection of your favorite authors choosing Kindle as one of their e-publishers, once you buy the e-book you can read them anytime even without Internet connection. You can also use it to read PDFs and other documents you download for work. With these features, downloading the Kindle app is simply a no-brainer, don’t you think?

Well, this concludes the list. I hope this helps you make your decision on picking out the best widget/apps that you wish to have on your Iphone. If there are any other widget/apps out there that you think could complement this list, I’d love to hear it. Question: Do you think some of the popular authors like Stephen King and James Patterson use an Iphone? If so, what widgets and apps do you think they have in that phone? That’s one phone I sure would love to check out, wouldn’t you?

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