The one skill required for all art forms and how photography can make you a better writer.

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Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

In my first year of high school, I switched a lackluster Latin for Art. I am no artist: I stand in the doorway of art looking in, admiring those that occupy the room, seemingly gifted with talent.

I wondered whether it was in fact endowed talent or if art was a skill that could be learned. I asked a final year art student in my hostel how she did it — paint such beautiful and life-like portraits — and what she told me has stayed with me.

She said, “it’s all about seeing.”

Seeing

To see — to perceive by the eye, is more than vision. It is to examine, to watch, to recognise, to understand, to discover. The dictionary confirms this; but, for seeing to be more than mere vision, for it to embody these synonyms, we have to actively engage with what we see. The power of observation is engaged seeing. …


Searching for ways to feel at home in the world.

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Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

The Era of Constant News

There’s a saying that no news is good news.

With social media, we don’t really have occasion to use this saying anymore to assuage our worries in the absence of contact. When they’re away from us, family and friends usually share photos and posts, keeping us all up to date.

No news is now a rarity.

When it comes to world news, the same is true. Unfortunately, it’s in keeping with that old saying. There’s always news and it seems to be an endless stream of the bad kind.

Rationally, I know that this doesn’t mean the world is a worse place than it was in previous decades. With the internet, social media, and video technology in the hands of more people around the world, it makes sense that we are seeing more of what is happening globally. …


A chance to reassess how we live and to create our ‘new normal’.

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Photo by Florian van Duyn on Unsplash

This pandemic has, for all its destruction and chaos, offered us an unprecedented opportunity to reassess.

We have been forced to live life differently: to be at home, confined with or separated from our loved ones, doing less, and spending less. It’s made us think hard and fast about what we really need to get by every day.

For me, it has brought bubbling to the surface feelings, or dissatisfactions, that I’ve had about the systems that govern our lives and society, particularly related to the installed economic system and the norms that govern it.

I have felt for a long time that the system is broke. I have never been comfortable with the way money seems to be the only measure of worth and how jobs are expected to be the deciding factor on the way we live our lives. There is little room for freedom and growth with support within this system of accumulation of goods and financial maximisation. …


Global pandemics, a new reality, and option B.

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Photo by Geoff Brooks on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a lot of new vocabulary since the Covid-19 pandemic took ahold of the globe earlier this year.

Words like comorbidity and zoonosis hadn’t made it into my daily vocabulary. We’ve even added new words to the English language, like covidiot (a personal favourite) which, according to this article, refers to ‘any and every person behaving stupidly or irresponsibly as the epidemic spreads’. And, while their meaning is not unfathomable upon first sight, phrases like social distancing, contact tracing, and flattening the curve hadn’t really crossed my mind, until now.

Now, this is everyday lingo. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a huge learning experience. Beyond the terminology used to explain the who, where, what, how, and why of the pandemic, we are also being prompted to see the world anew. …


The breadcrumb-by-breadcrumb strategy of reading.

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Books are special things. Pages of paper bound together and enclosed in thin cardboard, they are vulnerable — easily ruined by everyday stuff: coffee, rain, time.

In spite of their fragile physical form, readers will know that beneath their covers there lies great power: to transport, to educate, to heal, to comfort.

Books are portals. They are medicine, they are companions, they are coaches in life and in learning. With the right book in your hands, there isn’t much you can’t accomplish.

If, for a second, you doubt this, think of that time you read exactly the right book at the right time. The time when you felt the book had been written especially for you. How about the book that introduced you to ideas and information that spurred you forward and opened up new pathways to you? …


Beyond craft and into the meat of writing.

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Photo by CJ Dayrit on Unsplash

We spend a lot of time working on the nuts and bolts of writing, the crafting of sentences, paragraphs, and pieces that we hope will be read and enjoyed. Writing craft is very important, but it is only half of the greater whole that makes your writing interesting and enjoyable.

The other half has to do with what you have to say, what you have to contribute to the conversation — the content of your writing.

The Shire of Writing

When we begin our journey as writers we almost always begin with the mechanics of putting words together in a way that is both accurate and eloquent. …


The two things every writer needs to do to craft striking sentences.

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Good writing is like a beautiful, knitted jumper.

Stitch by stitch, row by row, and section by section — if well crafted, they build on each other to form a beautiful piece of knitwear of your own making.

In much the same way, words, sentences, and paragraphs build on each other to form good writing. Well-chosen words and thoughtfully-constructed sentences and paragraphs can next-level your writing.

‘let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences’ ― Sylvia Plath

But first, some of my favorites…

You know good writing when you see it. Some writers fill entire books with incredible wording. But every now and then, you come across a sentence that is so keen, so powerful it’s like a spear to the heart. …


Why I’m ditching my website, where I’m going next, and how it involves you.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

We create. It’s what we do. And when we create something, we hope that others will connect with it and appreciate it. We are social by nature: constantly in search of our tribe, our community, our people.

This is why we don’t hoard our gifts or keep our creations to ourselves. We are compelled to share them. Whatever your gift may be, whether it’s written, drawn, painted, knitted, sculpted, welded, carved, videoed, photographed, or performed creations; you’ve thought about sharing it with others.

These days, that inevitably means you’ve thought about online platforms and which ones to use. As with anything, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the creatives’ platform dilemma. We have to choose based on what works for our personalities, our creative work, the time we have available, the medium that works best for us, and where our people are. …


What knitting has taught me about the importance of preparation in projects you care about.

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Photo by Nynne Schrøder on Unsplash

In most areas of my life, I’m a prepper. If I’m about to go on a trip, you can bet your yearly income on my preparedness. I’ll have everything cleaned, organised, and planned out long before I leave the house. Every eventuality will have been considered — which is why the gas bottle will live on the balcony while I’m away and all the power will be switched off at the board… It might be overkill, but it puts my mind at ease.

Preparation gives me peace of mind.

Why is it, then, that as soon as it comes to my creative projects, preparation goes right out the window? I jump right in, feet first, without so much as an outline of what I want to achieve. Sometimes it turns out great, but often I’m left wondering if I made the most of the inspiration and energy I put into my project. Could I have done more with it if I’d included some steps for preparatory work? …


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To write we must have something to say. This isn’t the hard part of writing. We all have something to say. The difficulty lies in how we say it. What makes writing good is the way we communicate what we have to say. This is where we inject our uniqueness into stories that are universal and opinions that are held by many others.

This uniqueness or individual spin on what we write about comes from personal experiences, observations, and thoughts. …

About

Verity Marques

Consultant, writer, editor working in communication & social sciences. Interested in creative, intentional living. https://veritymarques.substack.com/

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