Why Reading Makes You a Better Writer

Graffiti BridgeYou’ve been saying something that you think is profoundly true for a while. You feel like you unlocked a great secret, hack or have an inside track on the universe.

Then either you can’t express it well or someone with a larger soap-box comes along and says it before you can,

You have a moment of “ah-ha! I really am so brilliant!” and then “Damn! but now I can’t take credit because he said it first.”

This affirmingly frustrating situation happened to me recently.

Good writers read.

I re-tweeted Jeff Goins the other night (MT=Modified Tweet, I changed his a little):

@CoffeeBooksBeer: Hear, Hear! MT @jeffgoins: Good writers read. It’s just that simple. http://t.co/5ocIVqPd

His article makes the case that reading makes you a better writer. Not exactly groundbreaking material here and I promise that isn’t my entire brilliant idea.

I got a response saying simply: “data?”

At first I was going to dismiss it (troll?!) but I reconsidered. Sure, there is abounding anecdotal account of reading influencing great writers but is it a truism or actually true? Is there data to show causality?

[Read more…]

Batting 1000

Instead of a super fab relaunch I have crashed/lost/FAILed at converting over to my WordPress site I’ve been working on for the last weeks. I have even managed to lose the sandbox site where I had been working. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to restore or it would be better at this point to start from scratch.


So incredibly frustrating.

Alas, the only way out is through.

Since I’d like to stamp my name on the new site when it is recovered from the depths of my webby failure, I’m putting this up instead of my intended “Hi My Name Is Post.” When the new site is launched in the coming days I’ll have some stellar new things to say I’m sure.

For now: Save Early, Save Often.

And: Double-check (or know what you are doing) before you delete.

That is what is going on in my world… How are you doing?

Image via Flickr under CC License: “danger_2” by openDemocracy


I’m going to put this up as my scheduled “Wednesday Post” at 11:59pm on Tuesday night, the 17th of January. As of 12:01am I am going into hibernation for SOPA/PIPA Black Wednesday.

I have a number of other things in the works — tomorrow was supposed to be my big unveiling of new site etc. — but instead I’m going silent in protest of this horrible legislation.

You can read some of my thoughts and get a future-librarian-recommended list of reading resources, in this article I wrote for Hack Lib School, where I am now a contributor (or at least you will be able to as of 8am). This is my first post for them and I am honored and proud to be a part of this group. My information-profession-to-be peers and I decided to leave that site up as an outlet for debate and discussion of these issues near and dear to our livelihoods.

Discourse, input, better suggestions are what is needed. It should be an interesting, thought provoking, soul searching and activist kind of day… or at least I hope so. I am reminded by a quotation I heard yesterday by MLK:

“In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I am a friend of intellectual freedom.

I am a friend of an open Internet.

I am going silent in protest of SOPA.

The Horizon

Whilst playing To Do List whack-a-mole over the last two weeks I’ve had rumblings and churnings of posts but nothing that I feel like is complete. This is a common problem I know, as is last minute writing before deadline to get it done.

My issue is neither starting nor finishing right now. My problem is creating the head space to concentrate on anything longer than the next three minutes or think about that which is past today.

I’m onsite in Orlando and part of the squeeze is the work I’m being paid to do is supposed to take priority. I’ve also been distracted by friends, start of the semester concerns and projects with their own imminent or past deadlines… and of course the always shiny internets.

I’ve felt anxious and scattered in waves while trying to concentrate on my project and deal with whatever is most screaming for attention. Not ideal productivity conditions.

This morning, after about 4 hours of sleep, bleary eyed and slightly congested I awoke in time for a beautiful sunrise. (my picture doesn’t do it justice)

That image combined with watching some corporate speak powerpoints in 80foot wide aspect, sprinkled with planning and goal posts I’ve been reading during renders (some of which are below) and a caffeine kick, coalesced an idea in my monkey brain. Fair waring: because of the ingredients at play, it might not make a lick of sense.

With the economy and election, protests and priorities for the new year, the idea of a fresh horizon appears to be permeating culture right now.

I’m not a design expert but from the small lines of serif fonts, to election logos, to striking whitespace between blocks, horizontal is making a comeback. It seems we are drawn by the implied space between disparate objects and the promise of something cleaner.

Or maybe that is where I am. Caught in the frenetic of my day-to-day I keep thinking that my pace will be more calm in a few hours/days/weeks and then I can plan/write/meditate/work on that one thing. Then reality strikes again and methinks mahaps the beautiful distant future will always be just that.

Yet the horizon can always be an idea or ideal to be working towards.

Jeff Goins has some interesting thoughts about not making plans though still starting step by step to accomplish towards your goals. Certainly the blunt “I have no idea what I’m doing” finds resonance here as does his advice on plans (which echoes in other verbiage my musings on schedule). Mostly, I like the idea of doing to become habit to become process to become achievement.

I have yet to define my plans for this year. I have some goals and objectives but a defined work-set is one of many items hanging on my honey-do list. I know when I get back to Athens things will naturally take more shape and, with intention, I’ll find a positive routine. That, however, is all tomorrow-thinking and really I just have the attention and mental capacity right now for today.

My positive-step habit for this morning was: stop and appreciate the sunrise.

I tried to quiet all of the other soundlings of my mind and Be IN. Mischief managed.

Yes, the calm lasted all of 30 seconds before my alarm reminded me I was needed in the shower but it was a good reprieve while it lasted. It allowed me the space to ramp back up with a little more spring.

Like looking into the distance when feeling seasick, a few moments contemplating the horizon can ease a little of the tension and pressure of immediate and focus on the positive and possible.

A calming and helpful thought as I settle in to bop more off my list.


If you’d like some interesting reading that has found purchase in my brain this week here is some linkage:

PS: Software salespeople seem happier than accountants. Make of that what you will.

Anyone else giving up on plans and instead focusing on the horizon?


Herein is the the thematic underscore to this site. The mission. The objective. The ideal.


Be In

That is it.

4 Letters. Believe me if I could have made it 3 I would have.

Ready for the longer version?


That is my message.

Go all IN.
Be IN it to win it.
Be happy/content/blissful/thankful/joyous IN the moment.
Be INto you.
Be the central hero or heroine IN your story.
Be IN.

The Why

For far too long I wasn’t IN my own life. I was living a life — a fairly good life — but it wasn’t mine. It took one resounding wake up call where I literally turned around to see who had made the statement in my own head to start me on the path towards change and a better life for me.

It took years to make adjustments and shifts to create a better reality for myself — and that process is ongoing — but I first needed the reminder that I am in control here. I belong IN the driver’s seat IN my own life.

It’s not too late.

You can make the choice to do the same.


Under that theme there are the routes: INspiration (coffee), INnformation (books) and INntentional enjoyment (beer).

There is great crossover but generally here is how I break it down:

Moments of INspiration (coffee)

Coffee LoveLike the coffee that starts your day, these are the fuels that light your fire. They come in the form of life experiences, lovely images, passionate posts of fellow bloggers, great conversations, great cups of literal coffee, interesting people or the latest workout-high creative inception.

What ignites your heart’s desires and motivate you to be IN and contributing to the world?

Make sure your life is full of them. Treasure them. Use them to kickstart your passions and push you forward.



INformation about varied and various paths (books)

342/365: BooksThis starts with understanding our own steps forward and steps back. I also love meeting and telling of the INdividuals I meet who are living the Be IN mantra.  If I can pinpoint or posit on them, I’ll share the keys to their engagement with their life.

My lit lover self also enjoys escaping into a novel, reading about a different life, and discovering different people, places and events through a good tale. It is this process that further INforms us as individuals and, by looking at others and having an emotional reaction to a story, INforms you about you.


INtentional enjoyment rounds out the triad (beer)

Craft Brew in candlelightAh yes, the beer. Drinking fully of life (and beer) but not to excess or to escape reality. The ideal is to be fully engaged IN where you are. To be able to laugh and be merry IN the moment (with or without beer).

I think that you can find experiences, observations, elements, opportunities and simple pleasures whenever that is what you want.

I strive for the positive spin and search for joy unbounded.

(and I like beer)


These three things contribute to a life of being IN.

The objective isn’t to “be different.” The objective is to find our own engaged and happiest normalcy.

We are IN when we appreciate and surround ourselves with the ideas and physical things that we are INto and provide ourselves with happy purpose.

We are writing our own story every day and have the choice to make and mold it to be what we want.

Whatever you are INto, you should be INto you.

I’m Joanna and CBB is let beginning of my process to share my story and be further IN myself. I hope you are able to find inspiration, information and enjoyment here as well.



A note from the (future) archivist: After working over this idea in my head for the last few months I finally googled “Be In.” Apparently Be-IN was a cultural phenomena of the 60s (what wasn’t?) that has seen some recent resurgence in the digital sphere. As I don’t disagree with their calls I’m sticking with mine.

Class dismissed.

Images via Flickr under CC license by yours truly and Magic Madzik (342/365)