5 Easy Ways to Fight Writer’s Block in Your Second Language

Writer’s block afflicts all great writers.

Suddenly the words just won’t come out and you’re stuck sitting in front of your notebook or computer screen full of frustration.

There are plenty of great articles out there with general tips about how to beat writer’s block. Now think about writing not just in your first language, but your second (third or fourth).

What do you do then? How can you get the words to form in your non-native language?

The tricks for this type of writer’s block involve reorienting your brain to think outside the box of your mother tongue. Try these five steps to fight writer’s block in your second language:

1. Sing along to a song

Try listening to your favorite song in that elusive language and singing along by heart or by looking at the lyrics. Beyond the fact that singing (and dancing) are proven strategies to boost your mood, your brain will thank you too for a reminder that whatever language you are frustrated to write in can be fun!

According to Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months, singing in another language has been shown to expand vocabulary, review slang and help with an accent when speaking.

Now, consider how it can help motivate your writing too.

2. Translate (and cook) a recipe

Kill two birds with one stone — hunger and writer’s block.

Try cooking a recipe written in your second language, maybe even one that stems from the culture. As you read and translate the recipe instructions, you will be forced to think and analyze your second language.

Grab your computer or dictionary to look up words you don’t know and keep it close as you continue with the writing process.

Next, as you eat that delicious meal, get yourself in the mood to produce the language in your writing.

3. Write a journal entry

Start with what you can definitely write about: your own day.

Begin with basic sentences that simply chronicle your day or the day before. No need to add fancy transitions. Just focus on getting the words down and crafting cohesive sentences.

If you’re still feeling stuck, start to elaborate on each activity with more and more detail. Test yourself with how much vocabulary and wordplay you can use to describe even the most boring activity.

You never know, your next journal entry could turn into a masterful personal essay of its own.

4. Brainstorm an outline

Now it’s time to focus on your writing task. Maybe it’s an academic paper, cover letter or a bigger project, like a novel.

Try first to break it down to a simple list and start generating that relevant vocabulary. This is a great opportunity to also use references from books, the internet or other sources to start you on the right path with phrases or terminology that is specific to whatever you want to write. Don’t forget to cite your sources!

Next, organize the list into an outline that can quickly transform into a fluid piece of writing. Then just like with your journal, begin to expand and elaborate on each to create cohesive paragraphs.

5. Convince yourself with confidence

The worst thing you can do is to deflate your own ability to speak your second language.

Writer’s block is natural and is not a reflection of your mastery of whatever language you are attempting to write in. Think instead about all of the years you have studied this language and things you have written in the past to get to this point.

You can do this! Pretend you are a native speaker and get the words down on paper. You can always spend some quality time editing later.

What are your strategies to beat writer’s block in a foreign language?

The post 5 Easy Ways to Fight Writer’s Block in Your Second Language appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

5 Easy Ways to Fight Writer’s Block in Your Second Language

Writer’s block afflicts all great writers.

Suddenly the words just won’t come out and you’re stuck sitting in front of your notebook or computer screen full of frustration.

There are plenty of great articles out there with general tips about how to beat writer’s block. Now think about writing not just in your first language, but your second (third or fourth).

What do you do then? How can you get the words to form in your non-native language?

The tricks for this type of writer’s block involve reorienting your brain to think outside the box of your mother tongue. Try these five steps to fight writer’s block in your second language:

1. Sing along to a song

Try listening to your favorite song in that elusive language and singing along by heart or by looking at the lyrics. Beyond the fact that singing (and dancing) are proven strategies to boost your mood, your brain will thank you too for a reminder that whatever language you are frustrated to write in can be fun!

According to Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months, singing in another language has been shown to expand vocabulary, review slang and help with an accent when speaking.

Now, consider how it can help motivate your writing too.

2. Translate (and cook) a recipe

Kill two birds with one stone — hunger and writer’s block.

Try cooking a recipe written in your second language, maybe even one that stems from the culture. As you read and translate the recipe instructions, you will be forced to think and analyze your second language.

Grab your computer or dictionary to look up words you don’t know and keep it close as you continue with the writing process.

Next, as you eat that delicious meal, get yourself in the mood to produce the language in your writing.

3. Write a journal entry

Start with what you can definitely write about: your own day.

Begin with basic sentences that simply chronicle your day or the day before. No need to add fancy transitions. Just focus on getting the words down and crafting cohesive sentences.

If you’re still feeling stuck, start to elaborate on each activity with more and more detail. Test yourself with how much vocabulary and wordplay you can use to describe even the most boring activity.

You never know, your next journal entry could turn into a masterful personal essay of its own.

4. Brainstorm an outline

Now it’s time to focus on your writing task. Maybe it’s an academic paper, cover letter or a bigger project, like a novel.

Try first to break it down to a simple list and start generating that relevant vocabulary. This is a great opportunity to also use references from books, the internet or other sources to start you on the right path with phrases or terminology that is specific to whatever you want to write. Don’t forget to cite your sources!

Next, organize the list into an outline that can quickly transform into a fluid piece of writing. Then just like with your journal, begin to expand and elaborate on each to create cohesive paragraphs.

5. Convince yourself with confidence

The worst thing you can do is to deflate your own ability to speak your second language.

Writer’s block is natural and is not a reflection of your mastery of whatever language you are attempting to write in. Think instead about all of the years you have studied this language and things you have written in the past to get to this point.

You can do this! Pretend you are a native speaker and get the words down on paper. You can always spend some quality time editing later.

What are your strategies to beat writer’s block in a foreign language?

The post 5 Easy Ways to Fight Writer’s Block in Your Second Language appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

Freelance Writers: How to Take Time Off (Yes, Really!)

No doubt about it, the freelance life has some perks.

You can work on a deck with a glass of lemonade or even put together some prose at your local museum.

Sometimes, you can set your hours and make time for a mid-morning yoga class or make a doctor’s appointment for the middle of the day.

But despite these perks, it’s hard to really, truly get away as a freelancer. Sure, you can work from a hammock (full disclosure: I am typing this from a hammock on my back porch right now).

But you’re still working.

But getting away — not just from your typical surroundings, but also from your phone or email inbox — is possible.

Here are a few tips for taking a real vacation — or as close to one as you feel comfortable taking.

Pick your destination with unplugging in mind

It’s hard to ignore a blinking message light on your phone.

What does that little green flashing light mean? Does it mean your editor hates the piece you submitted? Is a new editor excited to work with you on a time-sensitive piece?

It could mean anything, really, and it’s tempting to succumb to temptation and check your messages, even when trying to “disconnect.”

The surefire way to avoid this notification anxiety? Go somewhere your phone doesn’t work.

It’s not too hard to find a campground with no cell phone service, data connection, or Wi-Fi. Even just a weekend where you’re disconnected can go a long way towards unwinding.

Of course, it might also make you a nervous wreck who drives 30 miles for a data connection twice a day just in case. Some people find it less stressful to “unplug” somewhere they can check in once a day or so for five minutes and turn their phone off the rest of the time.

A “disconnected” vacation doesn’t have to mean being disconnected 100 percent of the time. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what works best for you.

Communicate ahead of time

If you don’t normally work on the weekends, going far out of cell phone reception for one weekend isn’t likely to be something that requires advance communication with clients.

But if you’re disconnecting for a longer period of time, it’s important to communicate when you’re going to be unreachable. And this doesn’t mean just slapping up an auto-reply on your way out the door saying you’ll be gone for the next month.

If you’re heading away from cell phone reception for more than an afternoon or so, look at the calendar to see which clients might need to get a hold of you during the period you’ll be away.

Are you expecting to receive edits on a piece soon? Is it a client’s busy season where they frequently send you last-minute assignments? There’s definitely a bit of guesswork involved, but it’s important to consider what might happen while you’re away.

A lot of this depends on how long you’ll be gone for. If you’ll be gone for an afternoon, you likely don’t need to do anything at all, since you can respond to your messages in the same evening.

But if you’ll be gone for a month, you’ll have some serious work to do ahead of time.

Tie up loose ends

Before you leave town, let your clients know you’ll be mostly unreachable. Be sure to do this well ahead of time. Don’t just send an email blast to every editor you’ve ever met.

If an assignment is due soon, try to turn it in early, letting the editor know when you’ll be unreachable and that you’ll be happy to address edits before you leave or after you return.

Likewise, if you’re expecting edits on a piece soon, let the editor know a few weeks ahead of time so you can hopefully complete any necessary editing before (or after) the trip.

Of course, from time to time, you’ll still have to spend some time working on the road. But using this system can definitely cut down on the amount of time spent working when you’d rather be relaxing.

Dealing with a freelance disaster

No matter how well you prepare, the occasional freelance disaster is inevitable. What do you do if this happens while you’re disconnected?

If you’re completely disconnected, you likely won’t know about the disaster until you return to the land of Wi-Fi and cell phones. The thought of this makes some people’s skin crawl, but others find freedom in the idea.

Whether or not being completely disconnected works for you is something every freelancer has to figure out for themselves.

But if you’re checking in once a day or every few days, you might just check in one day to find trouble brewing.

The extent of such a potential disaster largely depends on your line of work. If you work as a PR consultant and your big client has a major problem and needs spin control pronto, you’ll likely have to jump into work mode for a significant length of time.

But if it’s just a client who needs a quick copy edit? That’s easy enough to refer to a trusted freelance colleague.

In order to minimize stress if a disaster requires you to respond to while on vacation, be sure to have what you need with you on the road. Bringing any passwords you might need and important documents on a flash drive can make responding to the situation much easier. Also consider storing important documents on the cloud for any access anywhere.

Another great option to consider is using the buddy system.

Use the freelance buddy system

Working in an office comes with a built-in backup system. If you’re out of town, you can set up a voicemail message and email auto-reply saying when you’ll be gone and asking people to contact another team member with urgent needs and concerns.

Freelancers don’t typically have these built-in systems available. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own. Knowing other freelancers, especially those in your field and those who write for similar clients, is invaluable.

Take some time to get to know other freelancers and consider working out an arrangement with those whose work you trust and respect.

Leave their information as an “in case of work emergency” contact, and work out with them ahead of time what they will do if they are contacted on behalf of one of your clients.

Of course, you need to trust this person and everyone needs to be clear on expectations.

But it can be a great way to get a reprieve from your phone and email while leaving any work concerns in the hands of someone you trust.

And, of course, you can return the favor when they go on vacation.

What do you do to prepare for an unplugged vacation?

The post Freelance Writers: How to Take Time Off (Yes, Really!) appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

A Talk With Remy Auberjonois, Writer/Director of Blood Stripe

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this week’s episode I talk with Remy Auberjonois, the screenwriter and director of the new film, Blood Stripe. We talk through the early stages of this project, how he wrote the screenplay, and eventually got it produced.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

4 Ways Pro Freelance Writers Boost Confidence to Defeat Impostor Syndrome

The kids are finally asleep, the decaf coffee is hot, and you have a list of prospective freelance writing clients pulled up on your hand-me-down laptop…and then the panic sets in.

What if this person laughs off my email pitch?

Who’s possibly going pay me to write for them?

What makes me think I could be good at freelancing?

Congratulations. You’re officially a freelance writer because you’re dealing with a bout of impostor syndrome!

Impostor syndrome is a well-documented psychological phenomenon in which someone who’s qualified in a field starts to experience extreme feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy about their performance.

And without years of experience to reassure them they’re qualified, newer writers often succumb to impostor syndrome to the tune of decreased performance, accepting low rates, or even giving up on their business before it gets started.

And that’s simply unacceptable.

Let’s look at four ways established freelance writers overcome impostor syndrome whenever it pops up — even long after their newbie days are over.

Redefine confidence

As a freelance writing mentor, I’ve noticed a major problem in how new writers develop confidence. When new writers experience fear, they often think it’s a sign you’re doing something wrong, when in fact it’s just a sign you’re doing something new.  

Far too often, we think of confidence as our permission to do what we’re doing, Gina Horkey, the entrepreneur behind the 30 Days Or Less to Freelance Writing Success course, says. But that’s the opposite of how real life works.

“Confidence is just the belief that I can do something,” says Horkey. “It’s not proof that I’ve already done something. It’s the possibility. And when it’s low, it means I’m letting fear win. When it’s high, then I’m letting my belief in myself win.”

The next time you feel fear and you wish you were feeling more confident, remember that confidence is a result of success, not a cause of it. It’s up to you to step forward and try new things, even when you’re feeling afraid.

Take action to scare away fear

When Andrea Emerson first started freelancing, she wasn’t worried about finding clients because she knew how to get into her prospect’s head. In her previous job, she’d been in charge of hiring freelance writers.

But she was worried about generating enough work to sustain her in the early days of her business, and keeping her workload consistent over time.

Her solution? Taking action.

“I’ve found that taking action is a great antidote to fear—even if you start with teeny tiny steps,” says Emerson. “In terms of keeping my workload consistent, I persuaded clients to move to a retainer arrangement as soon we’d completed a successful project or two and I sensed they had a recurring need for content.”

Horkey agrees that taking action is a huge part of not feeling fear. Her husband quit his job to be a stay-at-home dad the year before she made the leap from predictable income to variable income, so it was all riding on her.

“I try to always do something when I get scared, because I know that fear is paralyzing,” she says.

“Taking that next step forward is the only way to work through fear. I don’t think I’d have gotten to this point without constantly busting through fear, doubt and uncertainty,” Horkey admits. “Fear will always be there, it’s just stronger during some times more than others.”

Reframe your fears

“Mindset is huge when you’re your own boss, and often the defining factor between success and failure,” Emerson says. “Prospective clients can sense confidence or fear in their interactions with you. They’re incredibly drawn to the former, and repulsed by the latter.”

Emerson also emphasizes the extent to which confidence is rooted in knowledge and training.

“Confidence comes from recognizing your skills and the tangible value they can deliver to clients,” she says. “It’s also a byproduct of understanding your prospects — what they need and how to deliver it. It turns out, for instance, that content marketing generates 300 percent more sales leads than traditional marketing. Prospects with big marketing budgets know that, and also know they can’t get those kinds of results without writers. That bit of industry knowledge is a great confidence booster.”

While much of a newbie freelance writer’s opportunities and client interactions might change from day to day, Horkey credits staying positive as one of her top fear-busting habit recommendations.

“I used to focus on ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’” she says. “But now, I’ve flipped it on its head to ask, ‘What’s the best thing that can happen?’ Now I’m not expecting the worst; I’m wondering if the best thing that can happen makes it worth it to try!”

Combine fear with persistence

At the end of the day, that rad cat poster from the 1980s was right: You just need to “Hang in there!” But more than a passing motivational tip of the hat, you need to make a personal connection with persistence.

As a generic phrase, “Be persistent” is annoying and trite. But when you look at day-to-day struggles, it’s an effective in-the-moment practice to say to yourself, “This intimidating client phone call is a small blip in my journey. This situation will be over soon, and I’ll be glad I stuck it out.”

What’s at the heart of this fear is the drama of not knowing you’ll make it through, the “Will she or won’t she?” of every movie. What you can do today is decide you will, which eliminates the sense of conflict and allows you to focus on the long term.

“I’m not ‘fearless’ because I’m making money online,” says Horkey. “Often my fears are now bigger than ever. But I’m not about to let them stop me.”

The cure for impostor syndrome will be different for every writer. But it’s vital that we all understand that it’s normal to experience, and there are indeed cures out there for each of us to try.

Do you struggle with impostor syndrome? How do you boost your confidence?

The post 4 Ways Pro Freelance Writers Boost Confidence to Defeat Impostor Syndrome appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

6 Short Filmmaking Lessons Learned On Set

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by Angela Bourassa

A few months ago I was on a walk with my husband, and I asked him to help me come up with some contained comedy ideas. I wanted to write something low-budget, as most of my scripts require big set pieces and casts. We pondered for a bit, then he came up with the idea for a movie that turns the game F*ck-Marry-Kill into a game show. I liked the idea a lot, but it sounded more like a short than a feature film. That’s how FMK was born.

I’ve worked on some minor productions in the past, but my experience with actual filmmaking is very limited, so we thought why not try to make this thing? We’ll learn a lot, hopefully have fun, and maybe end up with something great.

In the end, we definitely accomplished the first two goals.

If you have seven minutes, take a peek at the final product before reading on.

So, if you watched it, hopefully it made you laugh and you enjoyed the experience. That’s the most important part of any comedy film.

But you probably also noticed some glaring flaws. Granted, this was shot on a micro-budget (we spent more on food for everyone than anything else) with the help of our friends, none of whom are filmmaking professionals. That said, there are a lot of things we could have done better given the exact same budget and conditions.

These are the top six short filmmaking lessons that I learned from this shoot.

1. Friends are not professionals

We could not have gotten this project done without the help of our friends. They were incredibly generous with their time and energy, giving us an entire Saturday of their lives to shoot this thing. The two main actors in particular went above and beyond with rehearsals and camera tests.

But friends who aren’t trying to get into the film business are never going to take your projects as seriously as you are. They’re going to try to be helpful, but they’ve got their own priorities. Memorizing your carefully prepared shot list is not one of those priorities.

If you do enlist your friends, make your expectations clear from the get-go. Let them know exactly what they’re signing up for, and be direct with your demands.

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2. Shoot test footage and audio in advance at your set

We couldn’t get access to our set until the day of the shoot, so we had to do our best to simulate the lighting and sound conditions in other rooms. That caused some problems with both the lighting and the audio on shoot day that we just had to roll with. The more you can test and prepare and rehearse in advance, the smoother everything will go when it’s time to shoot the real thing. That includes testing all of the equipment, making sure the lighting is bright enough and matches at different angles, and rehearsing both the lines and the blocking.

3. Have someone on set whose sole job is continuity

I thought we had enough eyes and had blocked out the movements clearly enough that continuity wouldn’t be a big issue. But when it came time to cut the film together, we realized that we had an entire scene where the main character had worn his glasses in every single take, and no one noticed. In the end, it worked out alright because we needed to cut the film down anyway, but it was one of those face-palm mistakes that could have been easily avoided if we had someone watching placement, movement, and details.

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4. Pick your camera carefully and learn everything about it

We shot this thing on DSLR cameras. They were free, and we were able to get three of them, so they felt like the right choice. But the whole thing might have looked better if we shot it on an iPhone. On shoot day, we didn’t know the cameras as well as we should have, and as a result, several shots ended up out of focus without anyone really noticing.

We also seriously under-estimated how heavy the cameras would get during long takes. I wanted the shots to have a bit of movement, so most angles were hand-held. But about ten seconds into every hand-held shot, the poor camera people’s arms started to shake, and we ended up with some very bouncy shots.

(This is one example where professional assistance would have made a big difference. An aspiring DP would have addressed these problems with me in pre-production meetings.)

5. Brevity is the heart of comedy

This is a lesson I knew in theory, but not until we started to rehearse did I realize just how slow a span of twenty seconds without a laugh feels. In comedy shorts in particular, you really have to keep the laughs rolling and the story moving. A comedy short on YouTube should ideally be in the three to five minute range, at most. Our video clocked in at 7:35. It felt brief on the page, but on the screen, it takes a bit too long to set up the premise and get to the laughs. Then it takes too long to get to the big laughs. If I rewrote this script now (which was ten pages), I would cut at least three pages out of it.

6. Failure is the best way to learn

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think FMK is a total failure. There are parts that make me laugh every time, and I wrote the damn thing. But I know it could have been so much better.

And now, the next time I make a short, I’ll have a much better sense of how to succeed. I’m sure I’ll make a new series of mistakes (and probably some of the same mistakes over again), but I’ll get better.

That’s how our screenplays improve. That’s how our indie film projects improve. That’s how we improve. We practice by doing, over and over again. And in doing we fail, over and over again. And, if we’re paying close attention, every one of those failures should teach us something that takes us one step closer to success.

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~

Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

Film Review: Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (1977)

SYNOPSIS An oil prospector escapes from capture by a primitive cannibal tribe in the Philippine rain forest and heads out to locate his missing companion and their plane to return home. REVIEW: You already know Cannibal Holocaust, director Ruggero Deodato’s most (in)famous film to date, but did you know that he actually had a “cannibal …

The post Film Review: Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (1977) first appeared on HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site


Source: Horror News

Maine Site Director Sees Many Benefits of Writing for Student-Athletes

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Type: In the News
English teacher and soccer coach Richard Kent, also the former director of the University of Maine Writing Project, sees improvements in both writing and on-field performance from student-athletes who keep activity journals. Kent, who is also a professor of literacy at the University of Maine, has written several guides for getting student-athletes to write, including Writing on the Bus and The Athlete’s Workbook.
Source: The National Writing Project