Weekly Assignment: Describe Yourself in 140 Words or More

shape of a hoper

If you came of age in the era of internet profiles, you’ve probably spent a little too much time filling in boxes labeled, “Describe yourself briefly.” I get profile rage because I can’t describe myself briefly and get it right. Currently, my Twitter profile says, “Yoga teacher, writer, feminist, smartass.” If you get to know me, you’ll find all those things basically true, yet you can’t really tell anything about me by that. It doesn’t say, “I’m awkward and make inappropriate jokes when meeting new people,” because that’s not something I like to brag about. I chose characteristics I like about myself for the profile because that’s what I want you to see in me, obviously. Nonetheless, it’s important for me to be real and let you see my shortcomings, which is why I ramble on so much here!

This week, be bigger than 140 characters. Describe yourself in 140 words or more. No one has to read it, but if you do decide to share it, I think you’ll be surprised by the interest you get from others. People want to know you in a sincere, multi-faceted way, not just as an avatar that scrolls by on their various digital timelines. Be three-dimensional.Be imperfect, thoughtful, damaged, needy even. Write at least one paragraph that’s really true about yourself. What’s the most important thing in your life right now? How do you feel about your own face?

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Weekly Assignment: Get a Notebook

I don’t know where I’d be without my notebook. There’s something brilliant about a stack of blank pages just waiting to receive your thoughts.

This week, look around for a notebook that you would love to write and draw in.

Your notebook gives you a visceral, physical connection to your creativity. All your ideas, dreams, images, and fleeting fancies only exist for a split second in your brain as they flutter by, but writing them down gives them grounding in reality. Even if you never act on half of what you write down, the notebook is proof that you had that idea, and you can go back to it any time.

Here’s an assortment of my favorite notebooks from recent years:

Here are some things to consider as you pick your notebook:

1) How big should it be? Personally, I like to carry a purse that’s big enough to hold my notebook and at least one book, so I buy full sized composition notebooks. You might prefer something that can fit in your back pocket.

2) How much should it cost? Expensive notebooks (leather bound and the like) can actually make you feel more pressure to do something outstanding, and that can be creatively crippling. Choose a notebook that you won’t feel bad beating up or scribbling in.

3) Lines or no? I like lined paper because my handwriting will go berserk without it. Some people like wide open spaces on the page because it feels more free. The more mathematically inclined might like grid paper like in these Moleskins.

4) Decoration? Some people like notebooks with pretty pictures on them. Some people like blank notebooks they can decorate themselves. Some folks like all their notebooks to match so they look great on a shelf. Others (like me) like every notebook to be unique.

This one is my favorite notebook, which I filled up during high school and have carried with me ever since. I love it because you can tell how much it’s been through.

Got your notebook? Post pictures on your blog or tell us about how you pick a notebook here.

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Assignment Five: Get Over Yourself!

In the midst of the Battle of the Narrators, I had to finally admit something I’ve known but kept secret for some time: I’m addicted to first person narration. I write about myself all the time, even when the story isn’t really about me, I put it in the context of me.

For example, I wanted to write an essay about my nieces. I probably could’ve written about them just as two girls without mentioning that they were related to me. Or I could’ve acknowledged that they’re part of my family while still keeping the focus entirely on them. But instead, I used the first person narrative as a filter that made the essay not so much about them but about my experience with them. In making that narrative choice, I got off track and caused the essay to miss it’s target by a bit.

So here’s the deal: I need to write something that’s not about me. And furthermore, I need to do it in third person voice. Can I do that? Probably, but I don’t promise that it’ll be genius or anything. I can’t even remember the last time I used third person.

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Assignment Three: Favorite Metaphors

Yesterday, after hearing a particularly bad metaphor on NPR (reporters are notroious for trying to get creative in all the wrong places), I wrote a little do-and-don’t post about metaphor. That got me thinking about really great metaphors. I think one of the reasons I fell in love with writing was because I loved what could be done by comparing objects and ideas. I loved how language, a pure abstraction, could be imbued with so much texture and color just by chosing the right words.

So, my next assignment is this: Make a list of 10 really strong metaphors — not my own, but ones I’ve read and loved. In the next few days, I hope to be scouring some of my favorite books and poems to bring you the gems that made me fall in love with them.

Meanwhile, do you have any favorite metaphors? Lines from a song or a book you love? Share them!

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