Writer’s Surfeit

A couple of weeks ago I e-mailed a friend who, in addition to her day job, is a freelance writer. I needed some advice: “Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading, participating in Twitter chats, etc., that has given me lots of ideas for blog posts and other writing projects. That’s the good news (I think). The bad news is that I can’t focus. When I try to write up something, I get distracted and read e-mail, check Twitter, look in on LinkedIn, or even start making notes for yet more blog posts and writing ideas.”

She wrote back, “Ahhh, focusing! The twin of writer’s block. It’s not as bad as writer’s block, though, because at least you have ideas.”

It was a bit comforting to know that I was not unique. Unfortunately she didn’t have a magic cure. Ah, well, I hadn’t really expected one.

Since around the middle of last year, I’ve been in an exploration phase, trying out new things (mostly online) such as blogging, Twitter—both begun in August—and a few interesting websites. I’ve been reading a lot about all kinds of things, from technology to business to cooking. It’s been a good learning opportunity, but unfocused. The time has come to settle down and concentrate on a few of the things I’ve explored. Except my brain is still in overdrive and most of the time when I sit down to blog I instead add a half dozen or so items to my list of ideas for future topics.

I’ve even come up with a name for this problem: Writer’s Surfeit. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, surfeit means “Excess, superfluity; excessive amount or supply of something.” That’s exactly what I have—a superfluity of ideas, accompanied by difficulty (temporary, I hope) concentrating on carrying them out.

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“One Who Computes” or Googles or Tweets

About the same time I started this blog, I signed up for a Twitter account. I’d been resisting for a while, wondering what useful information can be conveyed by a medium that limits itself to 140 characters. (Hint: Disregard Twitter’s own “What’s happening?” and tweet about what you’re reading, thinking and sharing. I learned that from Bonnie McEwan in a presentation at the Foundation Center.) When I finally did take the plunge it became my new favorite addition.

But along with learning what to tweet, who to follow, and what a Tweet Chat is, I discovered that Twitter has more insider jargon than most virtual communities I’ve seen. The site itself is called Twitter, and each 140-character or less message is a tweet. “Tweet” can also be used as a verb, as in “I tweeted about that conference.” Your friends and followers on Twitter are “tweeple” or simply “tweeps.” The community as a whole is the “Twitterverse” or, to some, the “Tworld.” It goes on from there, but you get the idea.

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Seven Things I Shouldn’t Need to Tell You about Social Media (1 – 3)

About a month ago I signed up with Twitter and I have to say that I’m totally addicted to it. I had wondered what anyone could possibly say in 140 characters or less; it turns out that with clever use of links, one can say quite a lot. Even the short quips can be amusing, informative or a pointer to explore elsewhere.

The one thing I don’t always love about Twitter is that it’s a much more open platform than other social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This is good because it enables ‘Tweeple’ to follow almost anyone they fancy. It’s less good because it means some annoying fools may follow you. But that’s not limited to Twitter, just easier. Even on supposedly professional networking sites such as LinkedIn there are some jerks.

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What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

So said William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, and who am I to argue with the Bard? But if I handed you a bouquet and told you it contained skunk cabbage, I’ll bet you wouldn’t risk a sniff, even if you saw roses among the leaves.

How you speak to, and most especially how you speak about, people is extremely important. In June I was robbed and re-discovered how much words can influence how we feel about ourselves.

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