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Blog Excerpts

Get to Work!

Jason Fried, director of software innovator 37 Signals, asks on the website Vitamin: "When you're in 'the zone' you get your best work done. But how do you get in that 'zone' when colleagues, e-mails and IM are vying for your attention?" Read Jason's answer here.
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Blog Du Jour

Creative Inspiration

Nancy Wells is a VT subscriber and senior copywriter from Chicago, IL. She graciously sent us this list of sites where she goes for creative inspiration -- when she's not using the Visual Thesaurus! As Nancy told us, "the Visual Thesaurus is on my bookmark bar nestled between Google and the Chicago Tribune. I go to company brainstorm sessions with my computer and get on the VT for ideas." Thanks for your support, Nancy!

Google Image Labeler "Gets my brain warmed up for thinking of headline and copy ideas."

Creative Ideas

Malcolm Gladwell's column.

Word Spy


Finally, Nancy asks you, our fine subscribers: "Where do you get ideas and inspiration?"

Please let us know...

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When I am up against a deadline and I absolutely, definitely have to get on with my work, I use a few tactics to force myself to concentrate:

  1. Switch off email. I don't start Outlook (or if I do, I disable all the notifications that tell me I have new mail).

  2. Isolate myself. I use Bose noise-canceling headphones but don't plug them into anything. The silence really is golden.

  3. Greed and guilt. I remind myself how much money I'm getting paid for a particular assignment and how ashamed I will be if I miss the deadline. This actually works sometimes.

  4. Stop with the blog already. When I'm pressed for time, distractions like blogging and tidying up become very compelling. Knowing this makes it easier to resist.

  5.  Continue reading...
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As the executive editor of the award-winning magazine Saveur and author of the soon-to-be-released W. W. Norton book Cradle of Flavor, on the cooking of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, James Oseland is celebrated for his writing about food -- just don't call him a "food writer." We caught up with James to ask him to parse this distinction, and tell us what makes for compelling writing on the subject of food:

VT: Is there such a thing as "food writing?"

James: We have a tendency to categorize in our culture, so we think of "food writing" as a thing, "science writing" as a thing, the work of a novelist as a thing. But good writing is good writing. It's essentially all the same thing, you know what I'm saying?

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Here's another post from Collision Detection, the ever-fascinating blog authored by science, technology and culture writer Clive Thompson. Clive, who writes for the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, among others, is a refreshingly original and independent thinker. I highly recommend his blog. This entry was posted on 6/25/06:

Think that email you're sending off to your coworker is pretty funny? According to a recent study (PDF link), the odds are that she'll find it only half as funny as you do.

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When we heard that multi-platinum hit songwriter Wayne Cohen was a fan of the Visual Thesaurus we gave him a call, quick. Wayne says "the idea of seeing a whole array of possibilities from one word gets my mind moving." How he writes songs for stars like Jennifer Love Hewitt and soul sensation Curtis Stigers got our mind moving, too. So we asked Wayne a few questions about his songwriting craft:

VT: What do you write about in your songs?

Wayne: They're pop songs, so the main topics are love and loss and heartbreak. But I'm also a big fan of "message" songs like the Black Eyed Peas' "Gone Going," a tune about materialism and how people don't appreciate what they have.

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I came across this terrific post on a blog "devoted to all things geek" called Gadgetopia. While this entry's aimed at computer types, if you substitute the word "programming" with "writing," "marketing," "presenting," or any other kind of creative project, I think you'll find it extremely useful. I certainly did. It appeared on 05/14/06. [Editor]

Here's something I've learned: when faced with a programming project, the worst thing you can do is start coding right away.

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3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 36-42 of 46 Articles