Category Archives: Writing

A Useful Alternative to Getting the News

Read 530 Front Pages at
Read 530 Front Pages at
Happy New Year!

And Happy News Year?

I hardly watched the news yesterday and I noticed how much calmer I felt. Maybe I was also affected by my runny nose and the desire to relax because my body said so. I had a rather anti-social New Year’s Eve and I loved it.

News watching has been a habit from childhood. My father would watch the ten o’clock news every single night and then go to sleep. Like clockwork.
Every morning he would read the newspaper. Like clockwork.

Newsweek, Time and Life magazines plus the daily newspaper, and watching the news were my predominant news sources growing up. That’s before the days of cell phones and the Internet.

My current habit is to surf the web a few minutes in the morning and see what’s in the headlines.

I remember sitting in on a news reporting class in the journalism department of a local community college. The professor said what’s news is what’s reported. And think about it, think about what gets reported because reporters want to go there.

Maybe that’s why famines don’t get as much coverage as a story about a baby seal biting a swimmer in San Francisco.

This concept has stuck with me and has made me more interested in finding news through bloggers and resources other than mainstream reporting services.

However, I have a desire this new year to cut back on watching the news.

Instead of spending that half hour being teased to stay tuned to hear the latest devastation and “breaking” news, including the most dramatic videos that might tantalize my eyeballs for 9 to 900 nanoseconds, I’m ready to begin a new habit.

I’m willing to try any number of experiments. This new year I’ll start with going regularly to a website I heard about in journalism class with Jon Rochmis at City College of San Francisco.

On this site you can read the front pages of hundreds of different newspapers (779 today)!

This is like finding a fresh water lake in the desert!

I am fascinated by the differences in foci of the various publications and what they choose to report.

Within five minutes of reading I can be more informed than five minutes of news watching. Here you can see what’s making headlines from Austin, Texas to Montevideo, Uruguay to Khartoum, Sudan!

The list of papers available at is here:

To really bliss out on newspaper headlines go to Today’s Front Pages at at:

Today, I just glanced at the front page of the Modesto Bee, and a new law going into effect January 1 2018 in California that prohibits the legality of any potential employer requiring the disclosure of what their wages were at a previous job. An applicant can provide it voluntarily though. Once a job offer has been made, however, the prospective employer is allowed to do a background check. (Wow, in just half a minute’s glance at this front page I learned something helpful!)

I’m excited about this new year and the challenge to shift the use of this thirty minute slot.

I’m eager to transform an old habit.

And I’m open and receptive to having a miraculous year.

I wish that for you too and may you find news that fuels your needs!

P.S. When viewing one front page (at you can scroll to the next one or go to the previous front page by using the prompts in the upper right corner.

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Is This the Year You “Do the Work”?

Channeling Van Gogh, a work in progress by Mary Gow
Channeling Van Gogh, a work in progress by Mary Gow
Happy New Year!

I wish you an exceptionally creative, productive and expressive year!

If you’re looking for a quick read that will give you some umption, I suggest Steven Pressfield’s latest book, Do the Work.

The book gives a closer look at what Pressfield calls “The Resistance.” I find this is similar to what Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way calls “Creative U-Turns.” It’s when you might want to give up when you’re a few steps from success and you’ve talked yourself out of completion.

Like Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Pressfield recommends you begin with the end in mind. Where is it you really want to go? The end comes first, then the beginning and middle. While at the same time, he suggests beginning without overthinking where it will end and get started before your critical mind stops you:

“Act, reflect, act, reflect. NEVER act and reflect at the same time.” Steven Pressfield, p. 41

Similar to what Dr. Wayne Dyer said about having a space to create where no one can disturb you, Pressfield stresses the importance of blocking out a time and space when you don’t let ANYBODY or ANYTHING distract you and you focus strictly on your work.

Every so often, for instance twice a week, while you’re working on a project, he suggests you ask “What’s this about?” and “What’s the theme?” and keep doing this as you create.

In the latter part of the book the seven principles of resistance are discussed:

Number One: Accept that there is a force that is working against us.
Number Two: This force against us is unrelenting.
Number Three: This enemy is within and not outside of each of us.
Number Four: Though the enemy is inside of you it is not YOU.
Number Five: You have to See yourself as the knight and the Resistance is the dragon.
Number Six: Resistance shows up after the idea, so hold onto the idea and don’t be scared by the frightened ego’s voice.
Number Seven: There are unseen forces guiding you and will help you see that assistance is available to move through Resistance.

When Resistance comes up it’s an opportunity to test 2 things:

1) How badly do you want what you’re pursuing?
You can figure out where your level of desire is with a brilliant continuum (from p. 77 of the book):

“dabbling … interested … intrigued but uncertain … passionate … totally committed”

2) What’s your WHY for wanting it?

If it feels more like IT has chosen you or it’s because you’re having fun that’s key.

Along the creative path you are bound to experience a crash or feel panic (if you stay on the path). This is good. It means there’s a problem. And you’re about to learn something valuable. The problem is just that, it’s a problem that can be worked through. The problem is not you. The problem is not who you are.

It could be you’re within striking distance of success. This is usually the case when Resistance or the U-Turn shows up.

Slay the dragon. Keep going, you can make your way through the problem and keep going forward.

Pressfield shares how it took him seventeen years to get his first professional writing job. And it flopped, which meant he was a success because he had a real failure.

That meant he was “turning pro” as he calls it in The War of Art and in his book, Turning Pro.

Silence the naysayers in your mind and in your social circles, take action, write and rewrite. Make 2013 the year of doing the work!

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Day 23 – Write a Book the Wayne Dyer Way

Your Book Cover, an illustration by Mary Gow
Your Book Cover, an illustration by Mary Gow
If there’s anyone who motivates me AND makes sense, it’s Dr. Wayne Dyer.

He knows how to tell a story that can change your life.

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” Dyer blogs about it today, December 5th, 2012.

That quote makes me smile.

If you’ve never heard of Wayne Dyer you can find out more about him by clicking here.

On Dyer’s “Wishes Fulfilled” on PBS, he talks about how he writes books.

First he comes up with the title. He says that is THE most important thing.

Second he has a cover drawn up.

Third he puts the finished cover somewhere he can look at it while writing the contents.

Fourth, he stays focused and guards his writing time, calling it “sacred time.”

Do you dream of writing a book?

If so, there’s never been more opportunities than now to share your words with the world!

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4 Tips for Effective Conference Note-Taking

Improv Writing by Mary Gow
Improv Writing, Digital Image by Mary Gow
Do you go to a lot of conferences and take a lot of notes?

Don Crowther is an internet marketing expert and creator of the Social Profit Formula. I haven’t enrolled in his workshops yet but in a one of his many generously informative webinars he shared tips on effective conference note-taking. Here’s some points I thought were worth remembering:

1) Write down as much as you can. Later type up your notes. Something registers when you use you write rather than type.

2) Write all your notes in one place. He takes all his notes in the 5.2” wide Moleskine ruled.

3) Teach the content you just learned within 24 hours of receiving it.

4) Develop your own code for key take away points, like putting dashes one quarter inch closer to the left margin as an action item.

As an aside, there was a whole segment about business cards.

Put your photo on your business card. People at conferences will remember you better.

Don’t get business cards that are glossy on both sides. It makes writing notes on the back too difficult.

Do you like to type your notes instead of write them? How do you register names with faces of people you meet at conferences?

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