To begin with, you need to write. This seems axiomatic because it is. The only way to amass a pile of words into a book is to shovel some every single day. No days off. You have to form this habit; without it you are screwed. I’m going to assume everyone who keeps reading already has this down. If you don’t — you won’t make it. My best advice on how to form this habit is twofold: Get comfortable staring at a blank screen and not writing. This is a skill. If you can not write and avoid filling that time with distractions, you’ll get to the point where you start writing. Open your manuscript and just be with it.

Hugh Howey, author of the famous Wool series, offers his advice to aspiring writers – a fine addition to our ongoing archive of writing advice.

For the ultimate resource, see the famous writers’ collected advice on writing. And for empirical evidence of this rain-or-shine approach to writing, see the daily routines of great authors

(via explore-blog)

Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate… Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul.

[…]

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference. They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them.

Beautiful read on why readers are, “scientifically,” the best people to date

Perhaps Kafka’s timeless contention that books are "the axe for the frozen sea inside us" applies equally to the frozen sea between us. 

(via explore-blog)

On FOBA and ‘The Hobbit’

For someone who has FOBA (Fear of Being Alone), watching The Hobbit without a friend was quite an accomplishment. Sunday night (before Christmas Eve), I found myself making my way out of the bookstore and into the cinema, buying a ticket, a single-sized serving of cheese-flavored popcorn and bottled iced tea for myself.

I have always been planning to watch a movie on my own and tick off that imaginary box from my imaginary bucket list (I haven’t committed to actually writing it on paper or in pixels yet). But no matter how many times I planned, it never happened. So what finally made me go for it? It’s the series of unfortunate events this year that has led me made me pass up on a lot of good films just because no one would watch it with me. With the pressure of Metro Manila Film Festival lurking around the corner, I had to take my chances and watch “The Hobbit”. Yes, I watched a three-hour long movie by myself in the dead of the night.

A friend was quite skeptical when I told him that I was planning to watch The Hobbit on my own. If I remember correctly, he said, “Don’t watch a three-hour long movie alone.” But I can vouch that it was the best experience I ever had in my history of watching movies in the theater. 

One, I had the chance to really appreciate a movie on the big screen. The actors’ facial expressions all told a story. For once, I found myself feeling sorry for Gollum, feeling desperation clog the air during the “Riddles in the Dark” scene. Gollum was a victim of the ring’s power, not the villain as I have always made him to be.

Two, I gave myself over to the power of sound and music. I paid careful attention to how each soundtrack made me feel, from the happy atmosphere during the opening scene where Bilbo Baggins was seen writing his adventures for his nephew, Frodo Baggins. And when I saw Frodo walk in the hobbit hole, I realized that I missed Middle Earth after all; the breathtaking scenery, the depicted comfort of a hobbit hole and the familiar faces felt like home. Scenes wherein Thorin Oakenfield and company stood face-to-face with goblins and orcs resulted to tense muscles and bated breaths. I had to remind myself often to breathe and unclench my taut shoulder muscles the whole duration of the movie.

I just found it amazing how sound affects us and the way we perceive a movie. (I couldn’t help but remember a talk I attended last October on the art of sound in advertising. I am amazed at how I didn’t grasp this reality before.)

I was immersed in Bilbo Baggins’s world for three whole hours. It’s a journey, although unexpected, I will never forget. As I am a newbie at film appreciation (forgive me, film connoisseurs), I cannot write a respectable review of the film so I am linking a friend’s review here

I enjoyed my night out but my time in the dark theater made me realize a number of things. One, do not pass up a really good movie, even if it means you have to go alone. Two, J.R.R. Tolkien is a master creator, leaving us a new yet curious world of Middle Earth and all its adventures (and misadventures). Three, it’s never too late to pick up the print version of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I will do sometime in 2013.