Good things to read.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. This is the book that made me want to write mysteries, myself. A remote island, a dead host, and suspects that, one by one, become victims. Nice plot twist, too.
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I admire Welty’s diction, rapid characterization, and well-paced plots. The fact that this is a short story collection meant that I could enjoy and learn from these elements in short periods of time or at the end of a long day.
Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden. A thoughtful analysis of ten poems. Not only did this book introduce me to poetry I was unfamiliar with, it reminded me how much I enjoy reading poetry. I started splurging regularly on poetry collections after that–including Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Billy Collins.
Good things to watch.
Sherlock Holmes on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery/BBC. Great chemistry between actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman along with excellent writing from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss provide viewers with a fun, zippy, modern interpretation of the classic by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
House of Cards, Netflix. I don’t watch much television, but this series fascinated me. As a writer, it’s particularly interesting how this show was produced. Netflix analyzed viewer data that included everything from how many viewers watched this type of political drama, to viewer recommendations and tags, to the popularity of the lead actor and the director. Then they filmed the entire season, releasing it at one time to allow for binge viewing. This mirrors what many self-published (and other) writers are trying to do: use data from retailers like Amazon (we can view readers’ underlined passages and comments on ebooks) to see what works. And many are choosing to release already-written trilogies or longer series in rapid succession to build reader interest. Binge reading. It’s an interesting experiment and a well-written show.
Henning Mankell’s Wallander. Yes, it’s in Swedish, but there are English subtitles. Gritty and fascinating portrayal of crime investigation in Sweden…and displays a dark side to the lovely setting. The interesting, flawed protagonist adds to the stories.
Good things to use.
Free online timers. Since writers are easily distracted by shiny objects, timers can help us retain focus. We can set timers to alert us when we need to get off social media or timers to make ourselves write for a specific amount of time. I Google “set timer for 20 minutes” and Google counts down the time. Or I’ll use the free online stopwatch timer.
Pomodoro technique. If you’re a restless worker/writer or easily distracted, this is a handy way to retain focus. There are 5 steps:
- Pick a task you need to accomplish.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working
- When the timer rings, take a 5 minute break
- Repeat steps 1-3
- Every four cycles, take a 25 minute break.
Evernote. This free app will sync with other devices and functions as an online file cabinet for ideas, pictures and text. You can also email files directly to the app. It helps keep me organized with everything from writing (story ideas, blog post topics, helpful writing craft tips) to recipes. You can tag entries and search for keywords. It’s been incredibly helpful to me.
Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, @ElizabethSCraig