Like many writers, I plan on finishing a novel. I have been working on one for a while. I have had some articles and short stories published, but I have yet to have a published novel. Many of my friends and acquaintances ask if I have written, or in the process of writing a book. When I tell them I am working on a novel, the next question is “What is it about?”
Years ago attended a writing workshop in my town and sat in a room filled with aspiring authors. When it was time for us to ask questions, one of the attendees raised her hand an asked for tips on getting an agent. Then she went on to tell what her book was about. After about 5 solid minutes of awkward starts, backtracks, and confused faces, she ended with “I have a title. It’s called Saturday Night at the Disco.” Even as I cringed along with everyone else as she bumbled through her attempt to describe her book, I wondered if I could do a better job.
Part of my current job is helping students succeed academically. I help them with time management, study skills, critical thinking, etc. I am often looking for various ways and techniques on how to improve study skills. One method is the Feynman Technique. If you are not familiar with the Feynman Technique, it is essentially explaining something in language simple enough for a young child to understand and, by doing so, you too are gaining a better understanding of the subject. After explaining this technique with several students I realized that this technique is a great way to fill plot holes and confusion in you own work.
If you want to be a published author and plan to go the traditional route of finding an agent, you will have to write a query letter. You will have to be able to sell your book in a few sentences. One way to do this is with the Feynman Technique.
iBourgie’s Guide to Writing your Query Letter Using the Feynman Technique
- Write down your tentative title.
- Write down the plot as if explaining it to an 8-year-old child
- Review what you have written (or if you have an 8-year-old handy, ask them to read it to see if they can follow it. If they cant..
- Look for the confusing parts and clear them up. This may be a great time to also look through your work to see if that confusion exists in it as well.
- Finally, make any adjustments using plain language
I really is that simple. If it is too hard for you to apply this technique, you have a little more work to do. Enjoy the journey!
In life we often try to make things more complicated than they are. If we can just take the time to listen to what our hearts, minds, and bodies are telling us, we can face the world and all its challenges with confidence.
As I mentioned in my last post, I am very open to new experiences. The most recent new experience has been with Instagram. My cousin loves to cook and so do I, but cooking was one of the things I stopped enjoying when during my season of unfortunate events. Fortunately, with some inspiration from the culinary artistry of my cousin, I revived my joy of cooking.
Recently, my cousin has also been challenging me to learn more about social media. I had opened several accounts in the past, but rarely attended to them. One social media outlet neither of us had tried was Instagram. So, we both opened accounts and began learning what it was all about. I can’t speak for him, but I was hooked. He suggested that I post some of the food I was cooking on Instagram. I couldn’t wait. So I posted my first dish. I made sure that every morsel was placed perfectly, that the lighting was just right, the plate was attractive, but not so much that it over shadowed the food. Then I posted my culinary masterpiece. The whole staging process took about 15 minutes. It was beautiful and I was so proud of it. The portion was adequate, but not too much. There was a lot of greenery to make it pop and the presentation was lovely. Then I ate it and was satisfied. Now the amazing thing was the portion size. The portion I staged for the photo was about half the size I would have chosen for myself had I not planned to photograph it. Also, from plate to mouth there was at least a 15 minute time span. As I mentioned, the portion was adequate and I was satisfied after eating it. I took time to really savor the food before I ate it. I took in the beauty of the creation before consuming it. Taking that time quelled my appetite and I was able to enjoy and be satiated with a much smaller portion. I supplemented part of my desire for the food by taking the time to prepare and admire it. Additionally, the need to add color and visual interest to the dish caused me to add more vegetables. In a sense, Instagram is helping me eat healthier.
So far I have only posted two dishes to Instagram, but I have still been preparing my meals as if they are going to be posted to Instagram. I take time to prepare it, admire it, and eat it. Taking to time to truly enjoy the experience satisfies me. A larger portion of food only filled my belly, but savoring the experience fills my soul.
I would like to challenge all of us to stop, admire, and savor all of our creations. Use all of your senses. Allow your soul to be fed.
New experiences is the first thing I say to may son when I wake him up in the morning. He is not a morning person like his mother. He needs a little extra encouragement. Actually this practice didn’t happen intentionally. I was saying, wake up little Nigel. So the next morning after the first day of school, I said it again. Then Nigel said, “Mommy, I want you to say new experiences like you did yesterday.” Actually, that wasn’t what I said, but it was a good practice to start. Now I say it to him every morning when he wakes up.
I have been putting that practice into action in my own life. I am very fond of rituals and routines and I think that is just fine, but there are times when you need to give new things a chance. I recently started drinking coffee. Now I love it! I don’t drink it every day, but I enjoy a good cup of coffee. I don’t use it as a stimulant as I have been accused of being caffeine personified, but I drink it for the taste. In the past I refused coffee because I felt that I had no use for it. I viewed coffee as a means of staying awake or jolting one from a groggy morning, things I never had an issue with. One day I decided to give coffee a try. It happened in a very strange way. I was watching an episode of Satisfaction on Netflix and I saw one of the characters making a cup of coffee with a french press. The whole process looked interesting and I wanted to try making coffee that way. That particular way of making coffee appealed to me for its simplicity. So I purchased a french press, a hand-crank ceramic burr grinder, bought a bag of coffee beans from a local coffee shop, and made my first cup of coffee. I enjoyed the process of heating the water, grinding the beans, and waiting patiently for the coffee to steep. I found the experience to be therapeutic. It is nice slow down and savor an experience, and now I have a new ritual. It forces me to slow down, take my time and really enjoy the moment.
I would not have gained this new ritual had I not been willing to try something new. I have learned to let go of feeling that I cannot benefit from something that is not necessarily marketed to me or the identity I have assigned to myself. I must remain open to new experiences. We all must let go of notion that something is “not for you” or “you are meant for something like that.”
I would like to challenge all of us to try something or experience something new. Try a new food. Visit a different place or just take another route home from work. See what’s out there!
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