Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stop Searching, Start Affirming

My friend why do you keep searching on the internet
It doesn't have all the answers
It can confuse you with its clamorous demand for attention
What you search for
Is not on the internet, not outside at all
It is inside, inside you
For once, close your eyes
Feel your breath
Start affirming what you want to be
That you are
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Want to Laugh....But...

Its 5 a.m. I want to laugh. But people are sleeping all around. What do I do? Just watch what this man does. By the way he is Dr.Madan Kataria, founder of Laugher therapy.


Below, a laughter group in full swing:

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Friday, October 12, 2012

How I Overcame Perfectionism (Almost)

Millions of people all over the globe fail to realize their potential because of perfectionism. Their standards are impossibly high. For them it's either a 10 out of a 10, or nothing else.

When I started blogging a few years back, I had just a trickle of visitors. Gradually, it grew, over the years. Some of the readers were following my posts. It gave a unique high to see people from all over the world visiting here. Experienced bloggers will scoff at this, that there is nothing special in it.

But to me, the increase in traffic did a wrong turn: I started writing lesser and lesser. I was afraid if my posts would match up to my readers' expectations.

And Rewriting. That was monstrous. It was such a pain that it almost turned me off writing.

There were so many rules of good writing: active voice, shorter sentences, second person, larger vocabulary, the right words,... I started feeling bogged down by the rules.

It was also hard not to be apprehensive of others' responses when you are writing on not-so-popular topics like enlightenment and spirituality.

The number of drafts started to pile up. They were just not good enough.

I had been struck by the 'perfectionism' virus.

Overcoming perfectionism- a simple cure

Luckily for me, it did not last for long. It came with the realization that to write without enjoying the process was a waste of time. How does a blog's traffic build up in the first place? Because the blog articles become better:
Bad > average > good > better > still better > ...

But how does the writing improve ? Because the blogger keeps on writing articles, good or bad.

If I did not write anything, nothing would change. The writing would not improve. Beginning bloggers' only hope of improving their writing is to write more and more, make more mistakes, and learn from them.

Talk about the 10,000 hour rule for achieving proficiency.

I was still in the process of falling in love with writing, and needed o stick with it. Rewriting would come later.

If you find scruffily written posts, you will have to excuse me. I am just a beginner, learning to feel my way around.

I've decided to just write--no matter what, good or bad.

Question: "What if the traffic goes down?"

Answer: If I keep writing, and have fun at it, hopefully my readers also would enjoy it. They definitely wouldn't enjoy pieces written just to fit grammar rule books.

So here it goes again,...just playing with ideas on the key board.

The cure for perfectionism seems to be: Being satisfied with low expectations. To not worry about others' expectations. To try new things and have fun. Making mistakes and learning in the process. 

This way you can only do one thing - Get better and better.

Yes, I didn't overcome perfectionism, that'd be another perfectionistic goal!
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

4 Reasons Why Numbered Lists are Popular Articles

Article writers constantly try to improve their craft. They would want every one of their articles to be a hit,  if not a viral, on the internet.

Numbered list is a popular article format that keeps readers on your page.Essentially such an article has a headline like "20 ways to increase the mileage of your car" or "100 ways to be more assertive"...
If the information is solid and well presented, readers will always like this type of article.

Why are numbered lists so popular?

There are many reasons:
  1. They give the impression that you have enough knowledge on the subject to compile a list.
  2. You have conducted thorough research to compile a list.
  3. The promised number keeps the reader reading till the end because he/she has to get all the 'techniques'.
  4. A numbered list conveys an impression of order and organization, rather than a hapless concoction.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Reasons for Google's Success-Could be Yours Too!

Google's phenomenal success is self-evident. 'To google' has become a verb in most languages. For millions of net users like you and me, Google is an intimate part of our lives. Even though the company has a profit making motive like all other companies, the way they do it sets a model for effective business.

The key to Google's success is that they realize the value of their customers: you and me. Adsense publishers might debate that point. Well, Google does treat its customers far better than most other companies.

Apart from revolutionizing global information access, Google constantly strives to improvise  users' experiences with all of its products.

Google facilitates your success. For instance, if you have good writing skills, you can start a successful blog on blogger for free. You can even make some pocket money on your blog using Google's Adsense. For zero investment of money!

Google also constantly improvises its products to enrich the users' experiences. As an example, Blogger offers a wide range of apps that enable you to sell even third party products (like that of Amazon) on your  blog.

Google's home page offers a flabbergasting range of free facilities for your information, business promotion, and entertainment. Here are a few samples:

Information products

Google search- The ubiquitous Google.
Google images/video: Image/video specific search.
Google maps-Locate places on any country and get routes between any number of destinations; plan your trip. Even public transport timings are available.
Google news- Get the latest news from around the world.
Google translate -65 languages and growing !

Business promotion

Google documents - Store your documents online. Convert between formats.
Google sites- Get a free site
Google calendar-Mark and schedule your appointments online. Share with associates.
Google mobile-  Make your phone your wallet, find great shops near you.

Entertainment

Google play- A vast variety of games and apps to choose from.
Panoromio- Enjoy beautiful photographs from all over the world by top photographers.

There are many more products, most of which are free. Check them out at http://www.google.co.in/intl/en/about/products/

Google labs

Google used to have an online playground called Google labs. Here you could play around with novel ideas that Google was experimenting. Most of its popular products like Maps, News etc originated here. Unfortunately, Google stopped labs effective July 2011.

Google labs was a significant reason for its success, for it highlighted the company's creative side. Who knows how many more innovative products like Maps would have been born out of Labs!

Google says it is about focus and prioritization on the existing opportunities. However, they seem to have missed the point that opportunities are made by us. Maps, Docs, and Reader were born in the Labs.

Mimicking Google success lesson

So Google's lesson here for us is to focus on the customer-first and last. Identify your customers and keep thinking how to make life easier and more rewarding for them. It is the old lesson of adding more and more value to customers.

However, was shutting down Google labs a customer focused decision or one based on cost effectiveness ? I feel Google has departed from its 'fun' way of doing things here. Lets see how this fares in the long run.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

On Writing - From the King of American Fiction

I had long wanted to look at popular fiction works dissected as it were, under the microscope. I wanted to understand how successful fiction works, how characters develop and dialogues keep our attention drawn into the plot. It was a task quite difficult to perform alone. That is, until I chanced upon "On Writing" by Mr.Stephen King.

King's book has many detailed dissections of popular novels. It is a good resource if you aspire to be a fiction writer. A must-have.

This book has an unexpected bonus: It lucidly explains tricky issues of the English language and its effective usage.

Mr.Stephen King is a prolific writer of fiction, predominantly horror, and many of his books are best sellers. One did not expectd him to produce a work that would elucidate the principles of good writing, but he  shows himself to be a teacher extraordinaire. This is because he uses his powers of vividity of expression to convey ideas. Not many course authors use vivid images so that the reader/student gets the idea immediately and firmly.

Consider the Writer's toolbox that King conjures up. He first draws a clear, vivid picture of his uncle's toolbox that he used for carpentry works around the house:

...The toolbox was what we called a big ’un. It had three levels, the top two removable, all three containing little drawers as cunning as Chinese boxes.It was handmade, of course. Dark wooden slats were bound together by tiny nails and strips of brass. The lid was held down by big latches; to my child’s eye they looked like the latches on a giant’s lunchbox. Inside the top was a silk lining, rather odd in such a context and made more striking still by the pattern, which was pinkish-red cabbage roses fading into a smog of grease and dirt.

On the sides were great big grabhandles. You never saw a toolbox like this one for sale at Wal-Mart or Western Auto, believe me. When my uncle first got it, he found a brass etching of a famous Homer painting—I believe it was The Undertow—lying in the bottom.

One summer day I helped Uncle Oren replace a broken screen on the far side of the house. I might have been eight or nine at the time. I remember following him with the replacement screen balanced on my head, like a native bearer in a Tarzan movie. He had the toolbox by the grabhandles, horsing it along at thigh level...

Having painted the picture to stay firmly in the reader's mind, King goes on to convey his core message, which is of a totally different field:

I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.
The toolbox had three levels. I think that yours should have at least four. You could have five or six, I suppose, but there comes a point where a toolbox becomes too large to be portable and thus loses its chief virtue. You’ll also want all those little drawers for your screws and nuts and bolts, but where you put those drawers and what you put in them . . .well, that’s your little red wagon, isn’t it? You’ll find you have most of the tools you need already, but I advise you to look at each one again as you load it into your box. Try to see each one new, remind yourself of its function, and if some are rusty (as they may be if you haven’t done this seriously in awhile), clean them off...

Common tools go on top. The commonest of all, the bread of writing, is vocabulary. In this case, you can happily pack what you have without the slightest bit of guilt and inferiority. As the whore said to the bashful sailor, “It ain’t how much you’ve got, honey, it’s how you use it.”  

Some writers have enormous vocabularies; ...


Pretty ingenious way to teach, so that readers can absorb information effortlessly, isn't it? From the way he's put it, it'd be hard to forget the nuances of using language in writing, fiction or non-fiction...

You can have copies of On writing at Amazon:
 and for kindle, at 
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