Advice of the Day

I’m reading The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb–a wonderful craft book–and this quote really resonated with me, so I thought I’d share it with you all:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” ~Annie Dillard

Grammar Lesson #1: It’s vs. Its

Okay, so I’m rereading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (description on the Bookshelf), a book about punctuation. You’d think the book would be a little dry, right? Well, you’re wrong.

Truss’s prose overflows with British wit and sarcasm, and I just reached a passage that actually made me laugh out loud. I decided I should share it with you, so I’m including the excerpt below. All you need to know is that the target audience for this book comprises mostly grammar sticklers, such as Truss…

“To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as ‘Thank God its Friday’ (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive ‘its’ (no apostrophe) with the contractive ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian ‘kill’ response in the average stickler. The rule is: the word ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) stands for ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’ If the word does not stand for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ then what you require is ‘its.’ This is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, ‘Good food at it’s best,’ you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot, and buried in an unmarked grave.” (44)

On that resounding note, make sure you proofread carefully–especially if a grammar stickler will be reading your work!

Works cited:

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves. New York: Gotham Books, 2003. Print.

Some New Quotes

On Writing:

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~Vladimir Nabakov

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” ~Mark Twain

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” ~Flannery O’Connor

On Creativity and Imagination:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

“Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring.” ~Terri Guillemets

“Some stories are true that never happened.” ~Elie Weisel


(Thanks to!)

After a long hiatus…

I can’t believe I haven’t made a post since November! Time really flies during the holiday season, I guess. It’s now 2011…another year full of opportunities and possibilities. (And snow–that seems to be a theme so far this year. How does the weather affect your creativity?) 

The new semester is underway, and I’m hard at work on my Master’s thesis. Posts may be sporadic this spring, but the blog is going to get a facelift once I graduate in May. I’m undergoing a personal transformation of sorts–viewing myself as a writer first and psychologist second, now, as opposed to the other way around–and my blog will reflect that change as I move forward.

Until I’m able to finish another research post, I’ll at least try to share a few thoughts here and there on the books I’m reading, the projects I’m working on, writing tips I come across, etc. Here are a couple of quotes to lead things off:

On Writing:

“I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.” ~Pablo Neruda

“A line will take us hours maybe; yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, our stitching and unstitching has been naught.” ~William Butler Yeats

On Creativity:

“The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use. But the bee . . . gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.” ~Leonardo DaVinci

“I do not seek, I find.” ~Picasso

A Few Inspiring Quotes (Happy Monday!)

On Writing:

“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” ~ William Makepeace Thackeray

“To finish is a sadness to a writer–a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.” ~ John Steinbeck

On Creativity:

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” ~ Robert Bresson

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” ~ Rita Mae Brown

Consciousness and Problem-Solving: Some Interesting Quotes

I’m reading an article entitled “Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes” (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977), and there is a section about reports on problem-solving processes that I thought might interest my creatively disposed readers…

“There is a striking uniformity in the way creative people–artists, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers–speak about the process of production and problem solving. Ghiselin (1952) has collected into one volume a number of essays on the creative process by a variety of creative workers from Poincaré to Picasso. As Ghiselin accurately described the general conclusion of these workers, ‘Production by a process of purely conscious calculation seems never to occur’ (p. 15). Instead, creative workers describe themselves almost universally as bystanders, differing from other observers only in that they are the first to witness the fruits of a problem-solving process that is almost completely hidden from conscious view. The reports of these workers are characterized by an insistence that (a) the influential stimuli are usually completely obscure–the individual has no idea what factors prompted the solution; and (b) even the fact that the process is taking place is sometimes unknown to the individual prior to the point that a solution appears in consciousness.

Some quotations from Ghiselin’s (1952) collection will serve to illustrate both these points. The mathematician Jacques Hadamard reports that ‘on being very abruptly awakened by an external noise, a solution long searched for appeared to me at once without the slightest instant of reflection on my part…and in a quite different direction from any of those which I previously tried to follow’ (p. 15). Poincaré records that ‘the changes of travel made me forget my mathematical work. Having reached Coutances, we entered an omnibus to go some place or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with those of non-Euclidean geometry’ (p. 37). Whitehead writes of ‘the state of imaginative muddled suspense which precedes successful inductive generalization’ (Ghiselin, 1952, p. 15), and Stephen Spender describes ‘a dim
cloud of an idea which I feel must be condensed into a shower of words’ (p. 15). Henry James speaks of his deliberate consignment of an idea to the realm of the unconscious where it can be worked upon and realized: ‘I was charmed with my idea, which would take, however, much working out; and because it had so much to give, I think, must I have dropped it for the time into the deep well of unconscious cerebration: not without the hope, doubtless, that it might eventually emerge from that reservoir, as one had already known the buried treasure to come to light, with a firm iridescent surface and a notable increase of weight’ (p. 26).” (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977, p. 240)

Can anyone relate to these experiences?

Nisbett, R. E. & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84(3), 231-259.

Two Quotes: One on Writing, One on Creativity

“First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

~Robert Cecil Day-Lewis

“The whole difference between construction and creation is this; that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.”

~Charles Dickens



Quote on Creativity

“We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

~Ray Bradbury

Site’s Still Active!

“The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness.” 
~Julia Ward Howe


Yes, dear readers, this is why it’s been ages since my last post–I’ve been deliberating, you see.

Okay, that may be a bit of a lie. I mentioned this in one of my last posts, but let me reiterate–grad school is BUSY! I barely have time to eat, sleep, and waste time on Facebook, let alone write new blog posts. But, there is good news: I’m taking a graduate course this semester entitled “Psychopathology,” and, for my final paper, I’ve chosen to write about the “mad-genius hypothesis”–the speculated link between mental disorder and creativity (think Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Vincent van Gogh). This means I will be reading a plethora of research articles on the topic and will have some very interesting new posts for you between now and the end of the semester.

For now, check out a few related  links below. Keep in mind, however, that most of these articles are based on anecdotal, rather than empirical, evidence, and even the claims grounded in research may be controversial. So put on your skeptical glasses and click away:

Thanks for continuing to visit the site; be sure to pass the link along to friends and family who might be interested as well, and check back soon!

A New Quote…

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

~Cyril Connolly



(This is what I like to tell myself while I remain an unpublished author, haha)

I know it’s been about a month since my last post, and I will try to make another one as soon as possible. Unfortunately I’ve been quite busy lately. Fall semester is underway, and–who knew–grad school is apparently a lot of work! But check back toward the end of the month and hopefully some new material will be up.

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