โœ Ways to Improve Your Writing

1. Write daily.

2. Read On Writing Well or one of these other books on how to improve your writing.

3. Get feedback from friends and family.

4. Join a writing group, class, or workshop.

5. Participate in NaNoWriMo.

6. Listen to the Writing Excuses podcast.

7. Watch Brandon Sanderson’s creative writing lectures.

8. Keep an observation notebook.

9. Read read read.

10. Rewrite rewrite rewrite.

11. Copy great work.

12. Follow the Pixar rules of storytelling.

13. Craft a story from a writing prompt.

14. Read your writing out loud.

15. Start a blog.

16. Travel. Experience the world.

17. Keep a journal.

18. Outline your novel like Jim Butcher.

19. Re-read good books.

20. Try to get published.

โœ Books to Improve Your Writing

Included in this list are books on how to write both fiction and nonfiction.

1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott โ€” Advice on writing fiction, including exercises to get you started.

2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss โ€” A guide to proper punctuation with hilarious examples of real-world misuses.

3. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White โ€” A brief guide on how to properly write a sentence.

4. On Writing by Stephen King โ€” This Stephen King classic is more memoir than how-to guide. Still, it reveals plenty of insights into King’s writing process and serves as great motivation for the wannabe novelist.

5. On Writing Well by William Zinsser โ€” If you need to do any kind of writing to get through the day, this book will teach you how to improve.

6. The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester โ€” This book gives a beat-by-beat guide to writing a fantasy novel. Even if fantasy is not your genre, you can find value in this book.

7. Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer โ€” A sharp and funny guide to clarity and style.

8. The Everyday Writer by Andrea Lunsford โ€” An all-purpose writing guide for students.

9. The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth โ€” Learn how to elegantly turn a phrase.

10. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein โ€” Editing is an essential part of the writing process. This book will teach you how to fix writing when it is flawed.

11. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley โ€” If you have any interest in creating online content, this book will show you how to attract and connect to audiences.

๐Ÿ’ธ Affordable Purchases to Improve Your Life

Sometimes a small purchase can make a huge impact on your life. Below are 75 affordable purchases that have the potential to improve your life in some way. Note: Links below include affiliate links to Amazon.com, of which I receive a small commission for every purchase, at no added expense to the customer.

1. A pull-up bar to get you in shape fast.

2. A heated blanket for cold nights.

3. A detachable showerhead for washing the hard to reach places.

4. A pair of blue light blocking glasses to protect your eyes from screen fatigue.

5. A YNAB subscription to get your finances in order.

6. A bidet for a thorough cleaning.

7. A headlamp so you can see in dark places without occupying your hands.

8. A sharp chef’s knife because a dull one is dangerous and less efficient.

9. A sunrise alarm clock for a more gentle way of waking up in the morning.

10. Blackout curtains to sleep peacefully.

11. A shoehorn so you don’t damage your shoes.

12. A journal for working through your thoughts.

13. Noise canceling headphones for focus mode.

14. A National Parks pass to explore America’s best places.

15. A second monitor for optimal efficiency.

16. Timer cap bottles so you don’t have to remember if you’ve had your medication.

17. A mechanical keyboard for satisfying typing.

18. An extra long phone charging cable so you can use your phone while it charges.

19. A toaster oven for quick meals.

20. A fireproof safe to protect your most valuable possessions and documents from disaster.

21. The perfect notebook for capturing ideas.

22. A therapy light to bring the sunshine indoors.

23. A rice cooker for easy rice.

24. A first aid kit for emergencies.

25. A AAA membership for safe driving.

26. An e-reader for cutting down on book clutter.

27. Slippers to keep your feet warm.

28. A phone lockbox with timer to cut out distractions.

29. A kettlebell for heavy lifting.

30. A BKLYN library subscription for unlimited ebooks.

31. A tongue scraper for better breath.

32. A Bluetooth headphones headband to fall asleep to soothing sounds.

33. A jump rope for some cardio.

34. An egg cooker for an easy breakfast.

35. A pair of socks to last you forever.

36. A curved shower rod for more space in the tub.

37. An electric toothbrush for optimal dental hygiene.

38. A meat thermometer for safe and tasty eating.

39. A Uni-ball Jetstream pen for smooth writing.

40. A beautiful planner for managing your schedule.

41. A kitchen scale for more precise measurements.

42. A fabric shaver to keep your cloths from pilling.

43. A handheld vacuum to clean the hard to reach places.

44. A toilet stool for better bathroom time.

45. An iFixit toolkit for electronics repairs.

46. Scrivener for writing efficiency.

47. A vertical mouse to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

48. Motion sensor lights to make walking around in the middle of the night a little easier.

49. A carbon monoxide detector for a safer home.

50. An air compressor to fill up your tires and more.

51. A portable jump starter for when you need a jump.

52. A fire extinguisher to save your home.

53. A dash cam so you don’t get blamed for an accident you didn’t cause.

54. An SSD for faster computing.

55. A car emergency kit in case disaster strikes.

56. Touchscreen gloves for when you are outside in the cold.

57. A power bank so your electronics don’t die.

58. A Bluetooth car kit for more pleasant driving.

59. A pepper mill for delicious, fresh pepper.

60. A bento box for more pleasant lunches.

61. A running belt for a place to put your stuff as you exercise.

62. A foam roller to loosen your muscles.

63. Smart plugs so you don’t forget to turn things off.

64. An emergency blanket just in case you get stranded on the road.

65. Bar Keepers Friend for easy scrubbing.

66. A reusable water bottle so you don’t have to buy water bottles.

67. A water flosser for healthy teeth.

68. A bicycle helmet to protect your brain.

69. A water filter for clean drinking.

70. Cloth napkins to cut down on paper towels.

71. Magic erasers to clean the stubbornest of stains.

72. A slow close toilet seat so the lid doesn’t slam.

73. Houseplants to add some green to your living space.

74. A soft robe for luxurious lounging.

75. A drill brush to deep clean any bathroom.

๐Ÿ˜ž Things People Tend to Regret

1. Spending too much time at work.

2. Not pursuing their passions.

3. Not studying or working hard in school.

4. Losing touch with friends.

5. Not traveling the world.

6. Not taking chances.

7. Not asking out their crush.

8. Not spending more time with parents and family.

9. Not learning things when they had the chance to learn things.

10. Taking up smoking.

11. Being a bully.

12. Being selfish.

13. Being shy.

14. Fretting so much over the future.

15. Living in the past.

16. Playing life safe.

17. Treating their bodies recklessly.

18. Eating poorly.

19. Drinking too much.

20. Wasting time.

21. Wasting opportunities.

22. Not wearing sunscreen.

23. Credit card debt.

25. Pointless arguments.

25. Petty grudges.

26. Poor dental hygiene.

27. Breaking laws.

28. Being hard on themselves.

29. Not asking for help.

30. Worrying about how others perceive them.

31. Getting attached to people who don’t reciprocate.

32. Staying in an unhealthy relationship.

33. Not saying “I love you” enough.

34. Doing what others want and not what they want.

35. Rushing into marriage.

36. Just going with the flow.

37. Not sticking up for the little guy.

๐ŸŽ… 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Celebrate the winding down of this chaotic year with some holiday shopping. Below are my gift suggestions for the 2020 holiday season. This list emphasizes creation, exploration, and learning. You will find useful things, fun things, and causes worth supporting. Good luck shopping, and happy holidays!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed below link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Associate member, which means anything bought through one of these links sends a little money my way at no extra cost to you.

Write and Create

Tech

Explore

More

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ How to Learn Things as an Adult

Learning shouldn’t stop with the acquisition of a diploma. As writer and scientist Isaac Asimov said, “Education isn’t something you can finish.” Unfortunately, many adults are not aware of the avenues available to them for lifelong learning. Kids have teachers and parents to teach them, but what are your options? Here are a few of my favorite methods for learning things as an adult:

1. Complete an online course.

The internet is a wealth of information, much of it entirely free. Whatever you wish to learn, there is likely a free course on it. In fact, there are so many classes out there, it can be difficult to know where to start.

How to find courses worth taking:

2. Take a class at your local community college.

Your local community college is a hugely underutilized resource. They have all kinds of classes at an extremely affordable price. They even have classes on less academic subjects like woodworking, cooking, and welding. Head over to your community college’s website to view their course catalog and find out more.

3. Pursue your interests with experts.

Find one-on-one lessons. Get a tutor. If you can afford it, a teacher who can give you hands-on lessons will expedite your learning more than anything else.

Finding hands-on lessons can be difficult, but there are options. iTalki offers one-on-one language lessons. To learn a musical instrument, try soliciting Craigslist. Restaurants in major cities often offer cooking classes. REI offers classes on outdoors and survival skills.

4. Do it yourself.

Put your target skill into practice. YouTube is an especially great resource for DIY skills. Learn cooking, auto repair, musical instruments, and much much more. Check out my list of educational YouTube channels to get started.

5. Work on it daily.

Works of genius are not the results of flashes of brilliance, but instead of consistent, daily output. The only way to get good at a thing is to practice it a lot.

Consistency isn’t easy though. It’s hard to keep working at something day in and day out โ€” especially when you aren’t very good at it (which you won’t be at first, no one is). So to combat this problem, try giving yourself a 30-day (or longer) challenge. Challenges are fun, and they often come with a community to keep you accountable, making that day-to-day grind more palatable.

Find a challenge:ย 

If you can’t find a challenge that fits your needs, create your own. Try the Jerry Seinfeld methodย (note: there is some debate over whether or not Seinfeld actually did this). Get a calendar. Every day you complete your required work, mark an “X” on that day. The goal is to avoid breaking the chain of Xs you have formed.

6. Immerse yourself.

Surround yourself with real-life influences. Follow experts and hobbyists on Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to subreddits and web forums for those who share your interests. Anything you could possibly want to learn, other people are trying to learn too.

If you wish to learn the effects immersion can have on the learning process, check out Scott Young’s “Year Without English” learning experiment. Scott spent three months at a time in foreign countries in order to learn their languages. During those months, he was only allowed to speak his target language. At the end of his year abroad, he became proficient in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean.

7. Read read read.

Read everything you can about what you want to learn, especially books. The more familiarity and context you can get on a subject, the easier learning will be. Visit your library, buy books from bookshop.org,ย or check out my list of useful websites for online book resources.

Conclusion

Be curious. Pursue that curiosity. When you’ve settled on a project, act before your enthusiasm begins to wane.

For more on optimizing your learning, I highly recommend checking out Barbara Oakley’s free course Learning How to Learn, and the companion book A Mind for Numbers. Both course and book break down the science behind learning and the optimal techniques to employ.

๐Ÿ’ป The Giant List of Useful Websites

The Giant List of Useful Websites

This is a running list of over 100 useful websites. Websites are organized by category. Click the category names to toggle the lists of websites. Hover your mouse over the website names to view a description.

๐Ÿ“น The Giant List of Educational YouTube Channels

โœ… The Life Assessment Checklist

โœ… The Life Assessment Checklist

How are you doing? Are you remembering to care for yourself? Take a moment of self reflection, and check off the statements below that apply to you.

Strength and Responsibility

Career

Partnerships

Social Life

Health and Nutrition

Finances

Environment

Social Media

How did you do? Were you able to check everything off? It’s okay if you couldn’t. Most people can’t. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our lives that we forget to take care of ourselves. Hopefully, this exercise was a good reminder.

๐Ÿœ Food Rules for Healthy Eating

I try to be a healthy person. I exercise semi-regularly, and I watch what I eat. But eating healthy isn’t always easy, which is why I have laid out a few ground rules for myself.

These rules are more guidelines than absolutes. I do break them from time to time, but just having rules means I am always aware of them, which in turn makes abiding by them that much easier. I’m always tweaking them, so they are subject to change. Here are my ten rules for healthy-ish eating:

1. No soda. No juice.

As many of you know, soda has a ton of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, but you might be surprised to discover that juice also has an unhealthy amount of sugar. Just because juice is fruit flavored, it doesn’t make it good for you. So I stay away from soda and juice.

Not only do I think it’s important to avoid drinking sugar, but I think it’s a good idea to avoid drinking carbs altogether (the exception I make is an occasional alcoholic beverage). I stick to water in almost all situations. I don’t even drink coffee (not that I’m against caffeine, I just don’t find a need for it).

2. No fast food. 

What I define as fast food is any restaurant that typically comes with an attached drive-thru. I make an exception for In-n-Out (I live in California), not because itโ€™s good (which it is), but because of the quality of their ingredients. And sometimes on road trips, convenience is a necessary evil.

3. Never eat out more than once in a day.

There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. It’s impossible to gauge all of the ingredients a restaurant kitchen puts into a meal. It’s almost guaranteed my home cooking will be healthier. 2. It’s expensive to eat out all the time. If I’m in a situation where I’m not near a kitchen or I can’t pack a meal, then I try to find something healthy-ish at a grocery store to eat.

4. Don’t buy sweets at the grocery store.

If I buy a tub of cookies at the grocery store, I’m going to binge eat a tub of cookies when I get home, and ignore all of the healthy stuff I just bought. I don’t shun sweets altogether, but if I want dessert, I force myself to leave the house to get it.

5. Don’t skip meals.

Even when I don’t feel like eating, I force myself to eat something. This keeps me from bingeing at my next meal, and it ensures I have the energy to stay productive throughout the day.

6. Stop eating before the full feeling sets in.

There is a delay between your stomach being full and your brain registering your stomach being full. If you don’t stop eating until after that full feeling sets in, it’s already too late.

7. Cook whenever possible.

If I can cook a meal in my own kitchen , I cook a meal in my own kitchen. Frozen foods and the microwave don’t count. Real food must be involved.

8. Eat the leftovers.

When I cook, I end up with leftovers. I force myself to eat those leftovers for lunches until they are gone. This does a couple of things: 1. It keeps me from being wasteful. If leftovers don’t get eaten, they get thrown out. 2. It saves money. 3. It saves time. Leftovers mean less planning and less cooking.

9. Take it easy on the red meat.

I try to stick to chicken, ground turkey, and fish when I cook at home. Sometimes, I’ll have a steak or burger, but only on rare occasions. I keep red meat of my regular meal rotation.

10. Plan ahead.

Failing to plan inevitably leads to me opting for the most convenient solution. And the convenient solution is usually an unhealthy one. So I take a little time each week to plan out when and what I am going to cook. I then write that down on my calendar for future reference.

Those are my rules for healthy eating. They might not be right for you, and they definitely aren’t perfect, but hopefully you found something to inspire you moving forward.